Young people offer urgent moral clarity to do-nothing adults
At certain points in history, when institutions and established leaders have failed to step up and take action, it falls to the youngest among us to take charge. That is happening again these two weeks as a 16-year-old girl from Sweden, Greta Thunberg, takes center stage to mobilize the world against climate change.
Those of us who are older are reminded how young Americans rose up more than 50 years ago in the Civil Rights era. In May 1963, more than 1,000 young people in Birmingham, Alabama, marched through the city to call attention to racial injustice.
When many of the children marched again the next day, the notoriously racist sheriff Bull Connor set vicious police dogs on them. The children were under attack — by the dogs, clubs, fire hoses, and whatever means deemed necessary by the police. The television pictures that night sickened the nation.
The violence continued until the Department of Justice stepped in and the marches came to an end. But even as the marches stopped, the impact of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade continued to be felt.
The crusade offered moral clarity to the nation and proved pivotal in swaying President John F. Kennedy and Americans everywhere to urgently confront the need for racial justice.
We are at yet another moment in which the voice and efforts of the young are needed. The Baby Boomers and Gen Xers in power have proven unable to take action on a multitude of issues recently.
But nowhere is their inaction more glaring than on the issues that threaten the safety of people everywhere and especially millennials and members of Generation Z: first guns and now climate change.
Huge crowds gather in Australia as part of the strikes
Australia set the tone for the day of climate strikes on Friday, with massive crowds gathering in its major cities to kick off the global event.
Sydney was clogged by thousands of activists, while Melbourne’s Central Business District saw crowds spilling across multiple streets.
Adelaide also saw vast crowds, while Brisbane and Perth joined in on the action.
Europe wakes up and heads to the climate strikes
As it stretches into late afternoon and evening in the Asia Pacific region, Europe is now waking up — and ready to protest for climate action.
Photos from Berlin, Germany, show climate activists blocking road traffic by stretching hundreds of plastic cordons across a bridge.
Activists in Strasbourg, France, are gathering to push for clean vehicles under a goal of eliminating diesel and petrol cars by 2025, according to photos posted by Greenpeace Strasbourg.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan posted a video on Twitter early Friday morning, reaffirming his support.”I am standing in solidarity with all those who are taking part in the Global Climate Strike,” Khan said.
“Here in London, City Hall staff have also been encouraged to observe the strike by taking time out of their day to send a message to the world that London demands more ambitious climate action from governments.”
There are more than 180 climate strikes, rallies, and events happening across the UK today, according to the organizer’s website.