Eighteen-year-old Benjamin Dictor raised a ruckus last year when he founded Mobilized Youth, inspiring hundreds of Sarasota teens to rise from their Playstations and work for voter registration, keeping Planned Parenthood educators in public schools and more. The group recently opened its first headquarters, and Dictor, who graduated in May from the Law and Public Service Academy at Booker High School, will attend Manatee Community College this fall to study-what else?-economics and political science.
What inspired you to found Mobilized Youth? When I was growing up my idols were people like Abbie Hoffman and Martin Luther King. Our family's Friday night dinners have always been political debates. Whether or not my father agrees with me, he will take the opposite side. I had to learn to take positions and argue them well. Tell me about MY's involvement in the 2004 election. We rallied weekly outside [Supervisor of Elections] Kathy Dent's office trying to get a paper trail for the electronic voting machines, and we wrote letters to abolish the felon list. That was our first feeling of success, because it actually happened. On Election Day, we drove people to the polls on a 1950s bread truck converted into a giant float. Your biggest satisfaction? Getting across to young people that the individual vote counts. If you can change one person, you can change the world.