By Sally Noble
The Civil Rights protests in Selma. The Greensboro sit-ins. Little Rock Nine’s fight for desegregation in schools. The fight for women’s education around the world. The Black Lives Matter movement. The women’s marches. And most recently, the fight for gun control.
These are only a few examples of times when young people like us have led the crusade for social and political change. America’s rich history of youth activism has paved the way for an even bigger and more powerful surge of activism in recent years that shows no signs of stopping.
Even though young people are excluded from the process of decision-making through voting, society is still greatly affected by our voices. The personal impact of past events has caused many young people to become involved in the political process by using our voices to influence the views of the enfranchised.
This is done through small acts such as participating in political marches and walk-outs, or larger acts that call attention to a specific issue, such as creating or being active in an organization aiming to drive change.
We, as young people, are continuing to work together to make a global impact and create a better planet and society, but the work will never be complete. David Hogg, one of the young organizers for the March for Our Lives, said it best: “We have marched an inch but have a light year to go”. We must continue to listen to opinions different than our own and come to compromises to fix societal problems. By listening and working with young activists, adults can help us establish a better society for future generations that will ensure every person has a strong voice and an equal chance to succeed.
Youth voice has always been a pivotal aspect of society, because it brings a fresh and critical point of view that can introduce new perspectives to a traditional agenda. Young people are notorious for being open-minded and able to embrace change, which allows us to accept all kinds of people and learn from their unique experiences and perspectives.
Accepting and learning from these unique people is an important way that young people differ from our older relatives, and it is one of the best tools we can use to learn about issues and drive change.
The increasingly independent and confident youth has proven time and time again that we don’t have to follow any certain path that has been laid out for us. Our willingness to take an unconventional route through life by following our passions and learning from mistakes along the way brings new ideas and mindsets to the table.
Numerous organizations made up of young people are in action every day, holding events to educate people and attempting to influence legislation to create a better future.
It is the ideas of young people that are being spread all around the world through new forms of communication and technology. By supporting one another and the ability to drive change, young people have so many opportunities to make a difference.
One thing will always hold true; we need to take advantage of each opportunity to create a better world for us, our children, and future generations to come because young people ARE the future.