This is part two of an extended post. Read the first part here.

We marched. We celebrated. The undocumented youth who lead this movement showed that they are a force not to be doubted and never again to be silenced. We all knew that we were making history.

The march, the DREAM Graduation and the lobbying that went on in the offices of legislators in both houses were already giant leaps forward in this movement. But a few incredibly brave, courageous, amazing youth took it further than ever before.


taken from DREAMActivist’s flickr

Twenty-one undocumented college students and graduates began a sit-in in the lobby of the Hart Senate Office Building and the offices of several individual senators. One of them was our own Rosario, who was in the lobby.


taken from DREAMActivist’s flickr

They were arrested shortly after the sit-in began. Marchers checking their phones found out about the sit-in and arrests via Twitter and text. Word spread quickly. All of us became worried, then suddenly proud. The Washington Post captured the arrest on film (Rosario is in photos 4 and 5). But back on the march, we knew nothing.

At the end of the march, we gathered to find out what was happening. Leaders of the march collected information and announced to the crowd what they had heard. The names of the participants were read aloud. Rosario was one of group of twenty-one.

There were mixed feelings. Some were nervous; some were angry or frustrated that they did not know what was going on, what their friends were doing; some were worried that they would never see these twenty-one again. The last thing from anyone’s mind was how the press or politicians would react.

Senator Dick Durbin’s office, the author of the DREAM Act, quickly condemned the action. Their condemnation came even before all of the students were arrested. The spokesperson called the sit-in “inappropriate behavior” and a “publicity stunt.” Never mind that, as we know now, this “inappropriate behavior” just might be getting the DREAM Act up for a vote this year.

But their words, aside from being as “inappropriate” as he claims the students were themselves, come from a faulty assumption that the way of Washington is the only way to get things done. The nearly a decade of failure on this bill stands as evidence to the contrary. True leaders have long known that direct action is the most tried and true way for the people to bring about justice.

That is what Martin Luther King, Jr. meant when he said:

“Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks to so dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.”

Congress has now been forced to confront the issue. Harry Reid has obviously heard the call. Why hasn’t, of all people, Durbin?

Durbin might be the author of the DREAM Act, but this is not his movement. He is a politician, and politicians worry stupid things like this before they worry about taking the leadership role that everyone knows they should. But as we have seen already, this movement is not short on leaders.

We can say proudly that we saw our Rosario become one of them.

The following day, a press conference was held in front of the Capitol. Rosario spoke as a leader, even among the exceptional group she had joined. We saw her handle questions from the press authoritatively, decisively and without fear.

“We are not afraid,” she told the reporters. National and international outlets covered the story, including Univision and EFE. which both featured clips of Rosario. CNN had also been following the story.

Kay Hagan is yet to hear our message, but now the nation is listening. During these days, a movement began to crystallize. Its leaders are emerging, no longer in the shadows.

Above all other methods, the leaders of this movement have chosen for their cause, as Martin Luther King, Jr. called it, “the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest.”

They are not extremists; they are not even radical. Their request for basic human dignity is modest. What they are is a group of young people who, irrespective of their nation of birth, have come together to affirm that no one can be made a criminal by circumstances beyond their control. And that is, perhaps, revolutionary.

Photos not otherwise credited on this post were taken by Justin Valas.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post stated that Durbin referred to the sit-in as a “publicity stunt” and “inappropriate behavior,” when it was in fact a spokesman from his office stating that Durbin believes that to be true.

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