Bronx Science Students Strike For Climate Action

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Aerin Mann

Members of the Bronx Science Speech and Debate team demand climate justice as they chant songs of protest.

“We’re gonna strike for you, will you strike for us?”

This was the chant that Edie Fine, Nayu Shimo, and Haley Sim, students at the Bronx High School of Science, taught their peers on Friday, September 20th, 2019. It was fourth period, and instead of practicing kinematic equations or discussing George Orwell, hundreds of students stood outside of the school singing the official song of the youth climate movement.

These students were about to join millions around the world in what is known as the largest climate movement in history. The Global Climate Strike is a series of individual strikes in over 120 countries with the same goal: action against climate change. Over 4,500 strikes were planned, from Kenya to Australia. In New York City, over 300,000 people attended. 

The protesters had three principal demands: an end to the era of fossil fuels, holding polluters accountable, and a just transition to a green economy. Students implored their politicians to listen to the 97% of scientists that claim that climate change is real and driven by human activity. There’s not enough action being taken by the current presidential administration, nor is there enough acknowledgement that climate change is even an issue for me not to believe that I, along with other youth, needed to be the one to be the ones that take action to make meaningful change,” said Sim ’20.

The Bronx Science strikers assembled after third period. Students from every grade congregated by the flagpole to listen to their school’s organizers and follow them to the strike. Fine, Shimo, and Sim, the organizers of Bronx Science’s strike, are also members of Fridays For Future, a movement that began with sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg’s first school strike in August 2018. Instead of attending school, Thunberg sat outside the Swedish Parliament for three weeks to protest the lack of action taken against the climate crisis. Since then, she has been striking every Friday and has inspired teenage activists worldwide to join her. 

From school, the students boarded the 4 train at Bedford Park Boulevard Station and exited at Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall. They gathered with thousands of other strikers at Foley Square and marched to Battery Park from there. Students sang songs of hope, such as “Imagine” and “Man in the Mirror.” Yet many students were more concerned than hopeful. The crowd chanted “Fossils fuels have got to go!” and “This is what democracy looks like,” urging their politicians to take action. Enza Jonas-Giugni is a junior at Bronx Science who participated in the strike. “For us, the decision of whether or not we’re going to have children or what we are going to be able to do, how we are going to be able to travel when we’re older is all dependent on our ability to save the Earth,” she said. 

“For us, the decision of whether or not we’re going to have children or what we are going to be able to do, how we are going to be able to travel when we’re older is all dependent on our ability to save the Earth,” said Enza Jonas-Giugni ’21.

At Battery Park, climate activists were joined by Thunberg to address the thousands of New Yorkers. When it was announced that she would enter the stage, the air in the crowd turned electric. Young people climbed on trees and cheered “Greta! Greta!” eager to meet their fierce leader. “We have not taken to the streets sacrificing our education for the adults and politicians to take selfies with us and tell us that they really really admire what we do,” she told the crowd. “We should not be the ones who are fighting for the future, and yet here we are.” 

Although this strike is over, young people are not giving up on the climate movement. Azalea Danes is a senior at Bronx Science and a vital Fridays for Future organizer. She played a crucial role in gaining amnesty for the strike by writing a letter to the chancellor of the Department of Education advocating for all students in New York City to be allowed to attend the climate strike. Danes believes that the fight against climate change has just begun. “Urge your parents and people who can vote to vote for people with legit climate action plans, and bring up climate as a regular part of the conversation,” she said. “You sure can’t make a difference by just you yourself going vegan, but if you make other people listen to you, call your local government officials, and hold corporations accountable, we can get somewhere.”

Aerin Maan
Bronx Science student organizers instruct their fellow strikers on directions to Foley Square.

Aerin Mann
Reese Villazor ’21 and Julian Bekong ’21 march through the streets of Lower Manhattan to spread Greta Thunberg’s urge for action. 

Aerin Mann
Adult strikers step back and let young people lead the march to Battery Park.

 

Depa Saha
Ayesha Khan ’20 believes that the people who will be most affected by climate change are young people who cannot currently vote. “Our form of resistance is through things like this, through acts of civil disobedience, through strikes, through protests, through rallies,” she said.

 

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