The Case for Hope

Texas teens spend spring break learning about journalism & activism and have a conversation with DeRay Mckesson

Activist and civil rights organizer, DeRay Mckesson believes in hope because he believes in people. In an interview with NPR about his new book On the Other Side of Freedom, he says about Martin Luther King’s quote that the arc of the moral universe bends towards freedom: “the arc bends because people bend it, that’s about hope.”

*finger snaps*

Last week, Austin Bat Cave spent three days at the Texas Tribune with more than a dozen high school students for our inaugural journalism & activism workshop—For the Record. Participating teens represented different schools and nonprofit organizations including LASA, Lanier High School, Breakthrough Central Texas, Youth Rise Texas, and more. They dove right into conversations with our facilitators about political, social, and cultural issues impacting their generation. Spending time with these young leaders and hearing their passion, you can’t help but feel hopeful.

With the Texas legislature in session, students focused their attention on state and local matters. Two students, Anderzon Henriquez-Hernandez (16) and Jacameron Williams (16) partnered together to research and write about lowering the voting age in Texas. “Politics,” they argued, “impacts us directly. We feel we should have a say.”

In addition to working closely with ABC’s volunteer instructors, students also met with and spoke to executive editor and co-founder of the Texas Tribune, Ross Ramsey, who runs the website’s opinion section TribTalk. The most important thing for students to know before pitching Mr. Ramsey: don’t be boring. How did ABC students respond? Lyjah, who is sixteen years old, titled his op-ed “Beto O’Rourke wants to tear down my house.” In it he calls out that former Congressman on his record on housing development and gentrification and says that “as a proud Texan, Austinite, teenage student of color living in a neighborhood under attack from gentrification, I believe it is our responsibility as leaders and thinkers to take a stand and remember our roots.”

Ross Ramsey speaking to ABC students

On the final day of the workshop, Austin Bat Cave hosted a public event at Studio 919 in the Texas Tribune—a panel conversation and Q&A with DeRay Mckesson, Ann Gerhart of the Washington Post, and Alexa Ura from the Texas Tribune. Before the event, students had the opportunity to meet with our speakers and learn about their work.

(l-r) Chris Harris, Alexa Ura, DeRay Mckesson and Ann Gerhart

It is increasingly important for students to learn about fact-based reporting and how to read, process, and talk about the news. Austin Bat Cave also believes that it is crucial that students be represented in the news and media. Our goal for this workshop was simple: empower students to engage in and contribute to public dialogue on local issues. We can’t wait for you to read what the students have to say.

Austin Bat Cave is a creative community. Our free writing programs empower students empower students to find their voices and tell their stories. To learn more about ABC and how you can support our mission, please visit our website.