A testament to young female activists


Yesterday young people came out in millions after Emma Gonzalez and several of her friends started a movement and a march. On February 14, seventeen high school students were shot at Parkland High School in Florida. Prior to this and in the short time after there have been other mass shootings and many have also taken place in schools in this country. My article is not on gun control or violence but instead I focus on the power of speaking up and making a difference.

It is unfortunate that youth in America seem to be overly scheduled and controlled and often their opinions ignored by adults and government. Throughout history girls not yet 20 years old have impacted our future. These women knew their power and the significance of their voice even during a time when those in power were convincing them otherwise. Protests and social activists have helped change our child labor laws, civil rights, equal access for education and sports and our basic rights to vote and own property. 

1412: Joan of Arc, a French peasant girl born to a farmer in 1412 during The Hundred Years War. This was a period of ongoing battles between England and France for the French throne. At 16, she believed the voice of God told her to join the fight against the British and although the army dismissed her at first, she proved herself in battle and earned respect. Her role in lifting the siege of Orleans established her as a French hero. 

1903: Child textile workers marched from the coal mines of Philadelphia, PA to the home of President Roosevelt in Long Island, NY. Mother Jones, organized this march when 16,000 children left their jobs during the silk strike to protest work hours. 

1957: The Little Rock Nine, a group of 9 African American students enrolled in Little Rock Central HS won the right to enter the previously segregated school.

1963: Birmingham, Alabama, kids walked out of schools across the city to join the Children’s Crusade in an effort to fight for civil rights and end segregation. 

2006,  Copeny “Little Miss Flint”, 8 wrote a letter to President Barack Obama asking if she could meet with him or the First Lady during an upcoming trip to Washington, D.C. She was heading to the nation's capital to hear Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder testify before Congress about the water crisis in her hometown of Flint, Michigan.

2013: Melati and Isabel Wijsen founded Bye Bye Plastic Bags in Bali, Indonesia, they hope to remove plastic bags from beaches, schools, and communities in their country.

2014, Malala Yousafzai, age 17, became the youngest person in history to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Yousafzai, survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban and continued her efforts  to be an activist for women’s rights and education. 

2015: Marley Dias, 13, is the founder of #1000blackgirlbooks, a campaign with the goal to collect and donate 1,000 books to her peers that featured black girls as the main characters.

2017: Hebh Jamal, a 17 year old from the Bronx, NY organized a school walk out in protest of Trump’s Muslim ban.  Prior to this she organized protests, spoke at rallies, and has been a voice in the resistance against Trump's anti-Muslim threats and rhetoric