It was like a giant field trip.
[pullquote align=’right’ citation=’Sam Spielman, Berkeley High sophomore’]’You guys are the ones who started it and weâre the ones who are going to have to deal with it. Please take us seriously.'[/pullquote]Parent chaperones herded younger kids together.
Giddy teenagers climbed up lamp posts to get a better look at the protesters making their way down Market Street.
Students of all ages skipped class to send a message that action on climate change canât wait.
Friday’s march in San Francisco was just one of hundreds of student strikes across the world that aim to hold the powerful accountable for not doing enough to slow climate change.
âIt is a problem and we have to deal with it now. You guys are the ones who started it and weâre the ones who are going to have to deal with it. Please, take us seriously,â said Sam Spielman, a sophomore at Berkeley High School and a member of the schoolâs Green Team, a student organization formed to support the economic stimulus package designed to reduce climate change, authored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA).
Spielman and thousands of other teenagers and children marched about a mile from Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s office near Civic Center to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office in the Financial District.
With a little help from her parents and her friends, 11-year-old Grace hasÂ made posters, handed out permission slips, and planned a two-hour walkout and march to Berkeleyâs Civic Center on Friday morning.
Many said they were inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who skipped school to protest the lack of progress in reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
Second-grader Eloise Simons wore her hair in two braids, just like Thunberg. Her father, Jesse Simons, explained that her teacher at Park Day School assigned her class a presentation about someone who inspires them. Eloise chose Greta Thunberg and insisted on participating in the student strike.
âI just want to stop climate change,â Eloise said. âAnd Nancy Pelosi wonât! So we need to do something to try and stop it. We need to protest.â
The students were generally on message â in an age appropriate way. High schoolers explained that they donât know how to prepare for jobs and careers in a warmer future full of uncertainty. Middle schoolers talked about the importance of passing the Green New Deal. And elementary school students worried about storms and wildfires.
Some of the children had even heard about what happened when their fellow activists visited Senator Dianne Feinsteinâs office to lobby for the Green New Deal, when the senator lectured them about her recent electoral win. A group of middle schoolers from Urban Montessori in Oakland had seen the video, and they were not impressed.
âEven if she didnât like what those kids were saying, she didnât have to be disrespectful,â said 12-year-old Fatoumata Kaba. âWe want our planet to stay safe. We want a future for ourselves and our future kids.â
Students Bruck and Jai hold up a banner that says “Youth vs Apocalypse” outside of the office building of Nancy Pelosi in downtown San Francisco on Friday March 15, 2019. (Lindsey Moore/KQED)
The students proceeded down Market Street with a sense of urgency that only comes with youth. Teenagers counted down the years until they can register to vote.
âI was a little disappointed by DiFi in that video. I think itâs about time we get someone new in office,â said Ella Wadbrook, a 15-year-old at Berkeley High. âItâs our lives that are being affected when they donât act. Itâs frustrating that we canât choose whoâs making the laws that determine our future.â
Wadbrook said she and her friends are unwilling to wait to have their say until the climate degrades beyond repair.
âIâm two-and-a-half years away from voting. It feels like forever,â she said, expressing both the impatience of youth and the urgency of a veteran climate activist.[ad fullwidth]