Even teenage girls can help to make history. Alexandria Villasenor, a 13-year old seventh-grader from New York City gained national media attention because she conducted a sit-in at the United Nations in Manhattan every Friday for 11 weeks, no matter how cold or wet the weather, in order to protest their climate inaction. According to The Washington Post, Alexandria is one of a cadre of young, fierce and mostly female activists who are leading the “School Strike 4 Climate” movement in the U.S. She and Isra Hirsi, a 16-year-old high school sophomore from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Haven Coleman, a 12-year-old from Denver, have founded an organization called YouthClimateStrike.org (YCSUS). These teens say that because their futures at stake, they are calling for:
- Radical legislative action to combat climate change and its countless detrimental effects on the American people;
- The Green New Deal;
- For a fair and just transition to a 100% renewable economy;
- For ending the creation of additional fossil fuel infrastructure; and
- A declaration that the climate crisis is a national emergency because time is running out.
Vice reports that since YCSUS got off the ground a few weeks ago, they have signed up 300 local organizers involved in daily operations across 34 states. These young women leaders are following in the footsteps of their twenty-something “elders,” Varshini Prakash, one of Sunrise Movement’s co-founders, and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who put the Green New Deal on the map.
The students are organizing a nationwide school walkout on March 15, with the support of some of the world’s biggest environmental groups, and they are hoping to attract tens of thousands of kids to skip school to protest at their respective capitals, which is part of a global walkout. The global leader, Greta Thunberg, captured global headlines when she addressed the Global Climate Change COP-24 in Poland last December telling he delegates “You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes. We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not.”
Why This Matters: We need these strong young women, and their energy and commitment to keep the movement going and in the news. Just like the student activists who are pushing for gun control, these kids are determined, articulate and unwilling to give up or back down. Just ask Senator Feinstein, whose run-in with young people on the Green New Deal, did not turn out so well for her. People who don’t take these youngsters seriously will likely regret it.