Youth-led activism

Young people have a history of bringing social change. Parkland students, for example, are a part of America’s longstanding tradition of youth-led activism. Young people have led the charge on some of the biggest shifts in social policy and justice throughout U.S. history. Since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting in Parkland, Florida in February 2018, young people have emerged as leaders at the forefront of the gun control movement. Many conservative figures have failed to recognize that the teenagers are continuing a long-standing tradition of youth-led activism in U.S. politics, often leading the way towards social change. Back in February 1960, four Black students from North Carolina sat down at a “whites only” lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina in what is considered a pivotal moment in the fight for Black civil rights. Either through anger or frustration they are willing to take the reins and call out adults for failing to act.   


August 2018: ‘By the youth, for the youth’: a manifesto for tomorrow’s activists. Inaugural International Congress of Youth Voices create a global network at three-day congress.  “We are a network of empowered youth voices from around the globe that strive to take action for the world we wish to see. We recognize the issues that threaten human rights within our generation; let’s counteract them by implementing innovative solutions in the areas of health, education, social justice, security, and the environment.” link

December 2017: What can young voters fight for in the upcoming election? Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, one of the plaintiffs in the Juliana lawsuit, and youth director of Earth Guardians, writes: “In this upcoming (mid-term) election I am pressing young voters to make their voices heard on all issues affecting our county and the world we live in. We must demand strong action on climate change. We must hold corporations, our US president, and all political leaders accountable for the continued degradation of our planet and its people. We also need to play a greater role in how laws are written (and enforced) and how our resources are being consumed. But not only in our country. We must help empower and share our information and resources with those around the world that want to make a difference in the world.” link

May 2018: Young people are angry’: the teenage activists shaping our future. Fed up with waiting for the older generation to sort out its problems, a growing number of teenage activists are taking matters into their own hands. Here, six motivated people reveal why they’ve decided to fight for a better world. In a political climate where most adults are inert with despair, a growing number of teenagers are responding with action. link

Across the world, young people are taking governments to court to act on climate change. The litigation ignited by Our Children’s Trust in 2015, known as the Juliana lawsuit, relies on the public trust doctrine, a legal canon that stresses the government’s hold on resources such as land, water or fisheries as treasure for the people. The children’s lawsuits extend that principle by asserting the government also is a trustee of the atmosphere. The groundbreaking climate lawsuit was brought against the federal government by 21 children, and has been hailed by environmentalists as a bold new strategy to press for climate action in the United States. Environmental groups say the case, if it’s successful, could force even a reluctant government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and take other measures to counter warming. Cases are also being brought around the world with cases in Europe (Portugal) and South America (Columbia) See lawsuit page

The Sunrise Movement. Sunrise Movement was launched in Philadelphia in June 2017. While organized in the United States there are supporters for the movement around the globe. Their mission statement reads: “Sunrise Movement is building an army of young people to stop climate change and bring millions of good jobs in the process.” As of May 2018, Sunrise has 200 volunteers and numbers are growing daily. Hubs are where young people organize locally and work on getting candidates and politicians to sign the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge, which just hit 500 candidate and politician signers. We are also running a program called Sunrise Semester, where young people will work on elections leading up to November 2018 for candidates who will protect the health and well being of everyone in 5 key states – Michigan, Florida, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and New York. Sign up to receive updates.

September 2018: The Swedish 15 year-old who’s cutting class to fight the climate crisis.  Every day for two weeks, 15 year-old Greta Thunberg has been sitting quietly on the cobblestones outside parliament in central Stockholm, handing out leaflets that declare: “I am doing this because you adults are shitting on my future. I am doing this because nobody else is doing anything. It is my moral responsibility to do what I can,” she says. “I want the politicians to prioritise the climate question, focus on the climate and treat it like a crisis.” link

July 2018: Teens help reimagine America’s first climate change museum – link 

Link to Student page