Read Boise Weekly's preview of the youth-led climate strike.
To Roy Iradukunda, the poets and activists of yesteryear are carried through the voices of today’s activists. That’s the message they wanted to send when they read radical activist and poet Langston Hughes’ poem “Our Land.”
“The activists back then, and us right now, we’re carrying them with us,” they said.
Iradukunda was one of the hundreds that stormed the steps of the Idaho State Capitol on Sept. 20 to demand action on climate change. It wasn’t a local, or even national, movement: Around the world, strikers flooded the streets of their cities to fight for political and social change.
The land of sunshine, freedom and beauty Hughes wrote of in “Our Land” is the same land that the activists at the Capitol on Friday are fighting for. The message and the movement are almost entirely youth-driven. Most speakers at Friday’s strike in Boise were high school-aged students who expressed anxiety, anger and distress about the vast gulf between what scientists say about the reality of climate change and what politicians say they’re willing to do about it. According to a United Nations report, in 11 years, even significant reductions in carbon emissions worldwide will not be able to reverse the effects of climate change.
“They don’t feel good. They’re down, they’re worried, they’re anxious,” said Boise Democratic Rep. Melissa Wintrow. “We’re just too short-sighted.”
- Xavier Ward
- Muriel MacDonald, an organizer with the Sunrise Movement, led the crowd in protest songs throughout the rally and into the Statehouse.
Wintrow, who was there to support the strikers, said Idaho has a chance to set a precedent by incentivizing businesses to adopt green practices in place of unsustainable ones. Wintrow said politicians and businesses alike need to shed “not only fossil fuels, but fossil ideologies.”
The strike drew students from all over the Treasure Valley. Lev Spaulding, a high school junior, made the trek to Boise from Eagle alone. To him, skipping class and protesting sends the message that young people should, and do, care about the environment.
“I believe that young people, especially, represent the future of the country and the world as a whole,” Spaulding said.
The strike was co-organized by Liam Neupert and Jyoni Shuler, as well as a number of volunteers.
“Unlike the last strike, we have quite a big core team who are deeply passionate about the issue and are willing to give up so much of their time and energy towards the movement,” Neupert told Boise Weekly. “Because of this, I have been able to take a step back and not take on all the pressures of planning a strike as much as last time.”
- Xavier Ward
- Hundreds were gathered at the Idaho Statehouse Friday, Sept. 20, to demand action on climate change.
Neupert’s eyes welled as he looked over the sea of people in Boise, saying that when he started planning the strike months ago, he never would have imagined this kind of turnout. Still, Neupert was steadfast in his position that the world is something not only worth saving, but that we don’t have another option.
“I am done having my voice shut down by the old white men in their offices,” he said.
Neupert dubbed this generation “Generation Green New Deal.”
Following the speakers on the Capitol steps, the strikers headed inside the Capitol to sing songs, chant and call on the politicians to take action, not for their future, but for everyone’s future.
“This crisis is something that we as youth are going to be living and it is becoming closer and closer to our reality each day we do not address it properly,” Neupert said.