Strikes. Marches. Rallies. Protests. Generations of organizers have used these events to showcase the power of their movements—their ability to mobilize supporters. In the 1960s, student leaders like John Lewis organized one of the most iconic marches of the civil rights era, the March on Washington. A young Latina, Dolores Huerta, founded the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez to help California farmworkers strike for better wages. More recently, youth leaders Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg led more than a million people in a mass walkout with March for Our Lives. And now, many of us are about to take part in what is expected to be the largest youth-led climate strike in history.
Like the great mass demonstrations before it, the climate strike will send a clear, powerful message to our leaders about our priorities and values. It is about holding the space in plain view of decision makers—from your local mayor all the way to President, and beyond. It is about disrupting the business as usual approach of politicians who refuse to defend our future from the threat of climate change and take the action needed to correct our course. And it is about showing those politicians just how many of us are willing to stand up for a priority issue—that school and work will have to wait, because our planet cannot.
For many of us, there is no issue more important than climate change. It is supercharging natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires that are devastating communities and imperiling people across the globe. It is causing droughts and famine and floods and rising seas that are driving a migration and refugee crisis that grows by the day. It is triggering health epidemics as diseases spread into new geographies. As 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg has said, “our house is on fire.”
But as Greta and many other youth leaders before her have shown us, we are not powerless to accept the status quo.
That’s why it’s so important to join us on September 20th as we strike for the climate. Bring your parents. Bring your kids, if you have any. Bring your friends. WAKE UP the rest of society to the fact that our house is burning. WALK OUT of your classrooms or workplaces to show that nothing else matters if we don’t have a planet to live on. Demonstrate to our leaders that we have power, that we demand action now, not in 2030 or 2050, and that we will SHOW UP to defend our future when it is on the line. Because if they see young people turn out demanding climate action in hundreds of cities and towns across America – all in one day – they’ll wonder just how many more of us will show up when their jobs are on the line on the first Tuesday in November.