Editor’s note: Isabella Johnson, a high school senior, and Illinois State Lead of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike, speaks with the People’s Tribune about the Chicago climate strike on September 20.
“So in Chicago on September 20, my organization on our youth climate strike is organizing a strike. It will begin at Grant Park at 11:00 a.m., and we will march into Federal Plaza. Many people are not even aware that there is a climate crisis or even that climate change is real. So we need to educate and spread awareness of it. And we do that by striking to upset the social order as it gets people’s attention when we’re out on the streets and not at school. And, it’s always the most important thing to be educated in our opinion, which is why we’re having a lot of speakers, including scientists who will be able to tell us the science behind it.
So we will be featuring many speakers, including youth activists, local politicians, other leaders in our community and a lot of adults supporting us. And there’ll be kids, mostly students. We want to bring the unique perspective on how climate change affects us. So we’re going to have a couple from my organization and then an indigenous speaker. We will also have kids from an organization based on the south side of Chicago who will talk about environmental racism, things like that. We will be having a speaker from the biggest labor union in Chicago also, youth activists and environmental leaders in Chicago. Scientists from the Field Museum will also speak. It should be the biggest strike we’ve had so far. We’re expecting upwards of maybe a thousand or more people. We have about 50 schools right now in the Chicago area. And, I’m excited about the amount of little children who are coming to the strike too. It’s always cool to see a whole class of kindergarteners marching down the street! And one school will bring up to 100 six graders.
The Green New Deal is one of the national demands from our national organization. But for this strike we have an Illinois specific demand, which is to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act. That’s what we’re pushing for. It’s kind of like Illinois’s own version of the Green New Deal. And, it’s in the Illinois state legislature right now. It just hasn’t been passed yet. Since the Green New Deal has such a big and ambitious goal, we thought we should focus in more on local goals as part of the big step towards getting more things passed in other states and eventually national and internationally. And we have to have the fossil fuel companies stop funding the politicians because as long as they fund the politicians, those leaders will not take action because they’re beholden to the funders. And then the other big thing is that those workers who work for those companies, still need jobs. So we have to focus on a way to keep them employed. So when we switch over to a new energy, they can still work and still get good wages in new jobs.
So what we really want out of all of this is for politicians to take immediate direct action. We know that millions and millions of people will die if something is not done. There is only 11 years according to the U.N. Department of Science. So ideally we want action taken in the next 11 years to set our country on the track for renewable energy. We want people recognizing the importance of the climate crisis, and we believe other countries will hopefully follow. We’re asking all of our politicians, the Illinois legislature, Governor Pritzer, and we are going to do a lot of lobbying towards that too.”
Email Illinois@youthclimatestrike or visit social media for more information.
The People’s Tribune welcomes articles from those who are engaged in the struggle to build a new society that is of, by and for the people. Articles that are unsigned, such as cover stories and editorials, reflect the views of the editorial board. Bylined articles reflect the views of the authors, and may or may not reflect the views of the People’s Tribune editorial board. We encourage reproduction of articles so long as you credit the source. Copyright © 2019 People’s Tribune.
We rely on our readers to fund and distribute the paper. We get no grants and have no paid staff. Please donate whatever you can! Donate via PayPal at peoplestribune.org or send to PT, PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654-3524.