Nicole McClelland and Kristina Rizga
December 20, 2007
Luckily, though, we are. The past 12 months have been filled with many great youth organizing successes; some were covered extensively by mainstream media, and some went–sadly–unnoticed. From these extraordinary stories, Wiretap has culled a list of our favorite 10 youth victories of the year. They’re not just the events you’ve heard about, like the hunger strikes at Harvard and Stanford, because the less-attended actions of low-income, low-profile youth groups can be equally triumphant. And they’re not just acts of campus activism, either–because half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 are not enrolled in college. And though there are countless other examples of protest, cooperation, and informed dissent that went on and are still continuing around the country, here are 10 especially inspirational stories that went down this year. Congratulations to these and all other young people who took responsibility and took charge in 2007 to work hard both with their peers and with other groups, who put their energies into action for their communities, and for the world.
Environmental Activism: Stepping It Up
It’s time to go way beyond just switching light bulbs to fight global warming, and this year young people from all over the country proved their commitment to the planet. In February, nearly 600 student groups staged events during the Campus Climate Challenge Week of Action. But activists were just getting started, and college campuses were barely the starting point. On April 14, Step It Up–the brainchild of a group of young people and environmentalist and author Bill McKibben–brought people together at 1,400 locations nationwide demanding that Congress cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050. It was such a success that organizers kicked off Step It Up 2 just seven months later and got 14,000 messages sent to Congress and presidential candidates, 80 of whom sent statements or representatives or showed up at events. That same month, at Power Shift 2007, 5,500 young activists from across the country got together at the University of Maryland College Park to make Congress change its colors. Over four days in November, participants staged a rally on the Capitol and held more than 300 lobbying meetings to pressure congresspeople to provide more green jobs and greener policies for a greener, brighter, more sustainable future.