On Friday, September 20th, nearly 60,000 New Yorkers gathered in Foley Square to fight for climate justice. Founded by fifteen-year-old Greta Thunberg, a Swedish climate activist, Fridays for Future, united students around the world in order to raise global awareness of the climate crisis. Although it was a student-led strike, people of all ages convened in Foley Square as early as 11:00 a.m. to protest the refusal by many officials to adequately address the climate emergency. As protesters gathered in front of City Hall, they held signs reading “Deny and Fry,” and “There is no plan(et) B.”
Students from Grace left school at 11:40, to partake in the Fridays for Future strike. They took the train from Astor Place to Foley Square, where subway platforms and exits were already packed with protestors.
Evelyn Ward, a junior at Grace, who attended the climate strike, was impressed by the sense of solidarity she experienced at the protest. She said, “I think that the climate strike was effective in bringing people together and having our voices heard, but I don’t think it taught people how to affect change. People acknowledged that there is an issue to be addressed, but plans for the future were not discussed.” Ms. Dilley, a biology teacher at the high school, viewed the strike as an eye-opening experience for students, as it taught people who viewed climate change as a mere political issue and discussion, to see it as a scientific one. She stated that, “it made the younger generation aware of what the problem was. I know from my own 9th-grade students that they did not necessarily know what climate change was. Only that it was a political issue that was happening. They are still in a space where they need to know the science that is associated with it, but now I feel like they are interested in learning that.”
Students and teachers alike, protested to send an important message to world officials who have the power to enact climate reform. Ms. Chaloner, Dean of Community Life at the high school, said that if she could address these officials, she would tell them to, “get out of the way. If you’re not going to make positive changes, then let the people, who know how to, do it.” The strike was led by young advocates, who understood the weight of our current climate crisis and spoke out about what they perceived as the necessary economic measures that global administrations need to take. Olivia Berger ’22 articulated the concerns of many students saying that, “the adults in our community haven’t been listening to us, so now we have to speak for ourselves.” Although students might not have the political force to enact climate reform, protests such as the Fridays for Future strike are drawing attention to the climate emergency and showing powerful governments and global authorities that the youth care about the crisis and are demanding change.
Photo Credit: Nick Russell ’21