New Yorkers Gather for a Day of Activism in Brooklyn
On Saturday, May 13th, New Yorkers gathered in Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn to participate in the Next Generation Now rally and march for youth empowerment.
The event was held to provide an outlet for children to experience and talk about activism. Youth speakers from various social justice groups and local activist organizations, such as the NYCLU Teen Activist Project and the National Domestic Workers Alliance, were present to speak on both political and social issues.
Described as an ‘activism fair,’ the event was geared towards teaching children about social justice.
“The hope is to promote a commitment to activism and a willingness to speak out on the many issues affecting young people, with the knowledge that, despite their age, youth can have a huge impact on their world,” said organizer of the event Kristi Guigliano via facebook.
One of the organizations present was the Arab-American Family Support Center, which works to empower immigrants and refugees and protect their rights.
Zainab Abdullah, a sixteen-year-old youth representative from the organization and Yemeni refugee, spoke at the event about the importance of awareness.
“The media is showing us what they want us to know. They don’t show us about other places because if they do [show us] probably people will have morals and stand up,” said Abdullah. “But because people are illiterate for this stuff, they don’t know what’s happening. You never know what’s happening around the world.”
Addressing the crowd, Abdullah said that protest is necessary for change and encouraged young people to take up activism.
“The reason that I’m standing here today, [is] because I feel that we should talk,” said Abdullah
Another organization present was Mom’s Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Started as a campaign under the Everytown for Gun Safety Fund, the organization was present to educate children on gun safety through the BeSmart campaign.
The BeSmart Campaign wants to educate children and adults to prevent suicides and unnecessary deaths by guns.
“We really want to reduce the tragedies…it is an epidemic,” representative Michele Franck said.
Mom’s Demand Action also used their time at the event to spread awareness of pending gun legislation and the need for stricter gun regulations. Currently, the organization is focused on stopping the National Rifle Association’s proposed Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.
“There need to be a lot stricter regulations in terms of who should be owning guns, who should have guns, and it’s very disturbing when it’s actually more difficult to acquire a license to own a car than it is to own a weapon that can cause great devastation,” said Franck.
The organization has created an online petition against the proposed legislation that connects protesters to their local senators and encouraged those at the event to reach out.
All of the artwork for the rally was provided by another organization, Creatively Wild. Creatively Wild teaches arts to children of all ages and provides arts scholarships to underprivileged students in the five boroughs.
DM Wilding, the organization’s founder, was at the event to show how art can effect activism “…by teaching the students to tap into their own creative voice and express it whether that is in dance, theater, music, or art.”
Host Emma Lieber ended with this final message for children interested in becoming activists:
“Just show up to something. Or pick an issue. Just one issue. Like look up, look into the organizations where you live and get involved there. And start small, starting local is always a good way to go.”
After the event, participants marched through Cadman Plaza to Columbus Park to express solidarity and support for the issues discussed at the event.
Those who organized the event plan to make it an annual occurrence.