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07/20/2019 | Organizing for Education Justice

YOUTH LEADERSHIP: Building Youth Power at the People's Convention

From July 25-27, More than 250 young people from 20 different states representing 26 organizations from across CPD’s network gathered to build community and youth power together at the Center for Popular Democracy’s People’s Convention! The People’s Convention in Detroit brought more than 1,500 grassroots leaders, organizers, elected officials, movement artists and leading national progressive voices YERR members spent  together for two days of transformative learning, action and collective power-building. This year, YERR (Youth Everywhere Rising and Resisting), which is a collective of organizations across the CPD/A Network that organize with young people, created a youth track for the convention. More than 250 youth members participated in workshops, open mic performances, marches and more. 

Youth from several organizations across the country took on leadership roles and helped make the People’s Convention a success. In the months leading up to the convention, a youth-led planning committee came together to decide on the goals of the youth track at the convention, and then worked to plan and execute activities to realize those goals. The Swag Team created a YERR logo that was printed on buttons and were decorated by the youth as they arrived on Thursday. On Friday, members marched through the streets of Detroit. The 1,500 participants held signs and chanted as they marched. The chant committee held several meetings before the convention to create and discuss chants that would be powerful, and the youth digital team took over CPD/A’s instagram to post updates, do interviews with participants, and help spread information about the march. After the march, there was a rally with youth speakers. The march ended with a fun block party! On Friday night, young people hosted an open mic night during which members shared their talents. 

While the People’s Convention was happening, there was also a separate convening of Local Progress, a national network of progressive elected officials. During the convening, young people hosted a panel discussion about the school-to-prison pipeline where youth members shared their experiences of the school-to-prison pipeline and their demands and vision for dismantling it. School Board Members who participated in the workshop appreciated the opportunity to engage with youth from different parts of the country. On Saturday, there was a youth workshop that was centered on the importance of youth power. During this workshop, youth discussed the important history and role of youth activism in creating change. YERR also considered their national Youth Power Platform and started a democratic process to ratify it. Participants also worked to identify people in their network who they could have conversations with to expand the number of people involved in the movement.

The People’s Convention united members of different organizations from all over the country. It allowed youth to connect and feel empowered. Devene Jimenez, from Make the Road Nevada shared that “it was a really beautiful thing to see so many people empowered that came from all over the country and Puerto Rico, and everybody kind of had the same mission. It was really inspiring to see people of all different backgrounds united through one similar goal to make change.”