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07/20/2019 | Organizing for Education Justice

YOUTH LEADERSHIP: Taking It To The Streets At The People's Convention

On the second day of the conference the 1,500 attendees of the People’s Convention took to the streets of Detroit to speak out against cruel immigration policies, corporate greed, and the criminalization of communities of color. They also shared a vision for justice in housing, the climate, education, and health care. 

YERR chant leaders curated and successfully lead chants during the rally concerning issues such as black lives matter, facism in the U.S., and immigrant detainment centers. One of the leadership roles that young people took at the People’s Convention was being a part of the chant committee that created, organized, and led the chants for the entire delegation. Alyza Foster from OnePA shared, “it was moving getting to lead such a large crowd and I hadn’t led that big an action in Pittsburgh. When I started leading in Pittsburgh it was kinda scary, but in Detroit I had a realization that we have a voice for a reason, and we need to use to the best of our ability.” Young people took the lead with their megaphones and passionate voices, at the front of the march and dispersed throughout. 

Blanca Rodriguez from Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA) said that for her, “the most empowering part of the People’s Convention definitely has to be when we were rallying and protesting the systems of oppression in place right now and how we definitely took over the streets. We showed true, genuine, people power and we will continue to do so around the country and hopefully the world!” 

Another role that young people took throughout the conference was being a part of the digital team that was in charge of social media outreach. They took over CPD/A’s official instagram and added stories and posts that talked about their experiences at the convention and asked people at the march about their stories.  Devene Jimenez-Mitchell from Make the Road Nevada shared,“the most impactful part of the convention was when youth were involved was during the action, where you could see that the youth were the ones leading these chants and they were really cheering on their organizations as well as others. You could see that they, well, we are going to be the next leaders.”

After the march, we all listened to stories from various participants in the conference about issues that they are passionate about and affect their lives. Nicshel Samedi from Make the Road New York (MTRNY) shared, “Usually I avoid public speaking because I get nervous. I talked with my organizer, and he encouraged me to do it because I’ve been at the organization for a while and I never took the chance to go and speak. I did get nervous at first, but when I was practicing my speech I felt like I was able to do it and project my voice. It was really exciting to do that and it meant a lot. I had a lot of elation about the stories and talking about the school-to-prison pipeline, the issue I have been working on.”