Tip Sheets

‘On the front lines’: Youth show influence, once again, through school strikes for climate

Media Contact

Jeff Tyson

School students from around the globe have been skipping school on Fridays to attend rallies — demanding political action to combat climate change. This Friday, March 15, is expected to be the largest international school strike to date, with large numbers of students, including in the U.S., participating.

Noliwe Rooks

Professor in Africana Studies and Feminist, Gender, Sexuality Studies

Noliwe Rooks is professor of American studies at Cornell University and author of the book “Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and The End of Public Education.” She says that historically, school students have been leaders of political change, and that their position of leadership in the movement for climate justice isn’t surprising.

Rooks says:

“It is notable that though unremarked, the push for political change has often come from school children who push beyond what adults and elected officials think of as possible, or even the best.

“The 1970s anti-war movement, the movement to end South Africa Apartheid, the rise of the Black Power movement, the young people’s campaign during the Civil Rights Movement, the Movement for Black Lives, Gun control, and various movements to end Educational inequality have been and are led by students, many still in high school or even middle school.

“Adults often view students as on the passive receiving end of public policy, social justice and humanitarian demands when in fact they are on the front lines and even leaders. It is then not surprising that the same is true in the movement for climate justice.”

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