So, I skipped school Friday.
This time it wasn’t due to a case of senioritis or to miss a quiz I didn’t study for. I skipped to support climate action. I participated in the Chicago Youth Climate Strike demanding action on climate change as a part of a Global Climate Strike. These climate strikes happened all across the world to fight for the transition to renewable energy from fossil fuels and for immediate climate justice. I decided to walkout, because not enough people are realizing that we are in a climate emergency right now. Our planet is burning and hurting millions of people and we need to fix that before it’s too late. Many other students agree, which is why such a large group of us left my school despite the punishment that administration threatened us with. We were determined to be heard and seen by politicians and legislators.
We walked out and headed towards the Blue Line chanting, “Get up, Get down. Keep fossil fuels in the ground!” On the train, our group added in numbers as other students and adults joined to fight for the cause. It was heartwarming and inspiring to be so in sync with strangers because of this shared appreciation for our planet and its well-being. The energy was simply unmatched.
As hundreds of people consisting of CPS students, families, nonprofit organizations, and other activists gathered at Grant Park to march through the downtown streets all the way to Federal Plaza, they sported signs that rallied for The Green New Deal and for legislators to believe the science behind climate change. Another big goal was to draw support to successfully pass the bill for the Clean Energy Jobs Act for Illinois which would put the state on the path for 100% renewable energy by 2050. Lina Avalos, a primary organizer of the event and senior from Whitney Young, was seen at the forefront of the group screaming chants and directions through her megaphone. She expressed that, “It was bigger than my team has ever dreamed. The last two strikes have been about 500 people each, so our goal was 1000 for this one. Having SEVERAL thousand warms my heart and makes me know all the countless emails and meetings and hard work were all worth it.”
Other CPS students who skipped class had their own personal reasons for getting involved. Erika Romero, a senior at Brooks College Prep, felt like it was her duty to walk out. “I felt the need to participate because it just felt like the right thing to do. There is scientific evidence that says we’re destroying our planet and Congress isn’t doing anything about this issue. Everyone just wants to profit off the planet no matter how bad it hurts it. I feel like this is just wrong because we don’t get a second planet, this is the only one we have and someone needs to be doing something about it. Helping bringing attention to the topic seemed like the right thing to do in anyway I could. Participating in the strike was a great way to do it.”
Valerie Alvarez, who is also a senior at Brooks, took part because she is fed up with the racial disparities that revolve around climate issues. “I’ve been aware of the environmental racism that’s prevalent in my neighborhood, the Southeast Side, and on the South Side. Black and Hispanic communities get the short end of the stick and get hurt even worse during the climate crisis, which is evident through health issues. I feel that it’s important for the youth to feel that they have a voice because this is our future. We deserve the security of knowing we’re going to have enough time on this planet to execute our long term goals.”
This strike was monumental for Chicago and shows the impact that the youth can have. We indeed are the future and we are all working tremendously to make this flawed world an extremely better place.
By Kyla Hubbard, Senior, Whitney M. Magnet High School
*Amaris Edwards, Senior, Brooks College Prep contributed to this article.