The Rise of Teen Activism

Change. The one good the world truly needs right now is change, yet it seems like no one is taking action. Black Lives Matter, gun control, climate change: these problems have been made oh-so-apparent in the last decade as Gen Z has grown up. Much of the older generation seems oblivious to the glaring issues the world is facing. However, teenagers today are done waiting for the adults to make change happen. Now, the youth all around the world are at the helm of protests and marches, fighting to protect themselves and create the real changes they need in the world. 

Last year, the quarantine period of COVID-19, although a deadly and dreary time, allowed many individuals, who had never before taken political action, to reflect on these situations–many of whom were teenagers. According to “The New York Times,” one such activist was 15 year old Zee Thomas, who “had never been to a protest, let alone organized one” before the Black Lives Matter movement last year. But after just five days, and with the help of five other teenagers, Thomas was leading a march of 10,000 people through Nashville. Thomas shares the sentiment that “as teens, we feel like we cannot make a difference in this world, but we must.” Critics, especially those older than her, would be quick to jump at Thomas’ actions, claiming that she is just “a kid,” or that her actions could not produce a long lasting effect. The adults criticizing Zee Thomas have never spoken up and fought for what they believed in. Were they too cowardly? Did they not believe in change? At 15 years old, Zee Thomas has become an activist, fighting for the rights of black individuals and other people of color. She has taken action to do what needs to be done, gaining many followers and supporters along the way. 

Greta Thunberg, another young activist, has gained much support in the Climate Change Crisis over the last few years. In 2018, when Thunberg was 15 years old, she decided to protest against Switzerland’s government about climate change by skipping school. Thunberg called for governments and big businesses to reduce and cut their carbon emissions before the planet is destroyed. This action influenced numerous other students and created the “Fridays For Future” movement, where students were encouraged to skip school on Fridays to hold their government accountable to take action on climate change. Now three years later, she has inspired thousands of people to educate themselves about climate change, as well as garnered attention from high profile politicians, and attended a United Nations climate conference. Even at her young age, Thunberg knew that if she did not take matters into her own hands, no one else would either. 

Teenagers today know what is at stake: their future. It is more important than ever to become involved in activism and shape the world into a more safe, accepting and knowledgeable place.