• Leila Sulentic

3 Inspiring Black Youth Activists Pioneering the Climate Revolution

There is no doubt that Greta Thunberg is a leading and powerful Youth Climate Activist, but she is certainly not the only one. Many other youth activists, especially youth of color, are also doing incredible, large-scale environmental justice work, but are not getting the attention and recognition they deserve; so, today I want to tell you about a few of those individuals!



Isra Hirsi

Throughout middle school, Isra Hirsi was mostly involved in the Black Lives Matter Movement and the fight to end gun violence in America, but stayed clear of environmentalism/climate activism because it had always been framed and portrayed to her as a white issue. But in high school, Isra joined an environmental club and through it began to realize that in reality, climate change is an issue that affects communities of color the most and therefore is a racial and social justice issue. Since this revelation, Isra has worked tirelessly to create an intersectional climate justice movement in America. In January of 2019, she founded the US Youth Climate Strike, the American arm of a global youth climate strike, along with Haven Coleman, a 12 year old Denver activist. This organization’s largest strike in March of 2019 inspired an estimated 1.6 million students across 120 countries to skip school and demand that governments and adults in power take action on climate change. With her co-organizers at US Youth Climate Strike, Isra also spent a good part of 2019 petitioning congressmen and women to host a public climate debate; these efforts paid off when a climate change debate featuring Democratic presidential candidates aired on CNN in September of 2019. Now 17, Isra continues to organize climate justice protests and projects, locally and nationally, and help bring other young people, esp youth of color, to the forefront of the climate justice movement. Follow her on instagram @israhirsi.


Jerome Foster II

A former Intern of Congressman John Lewis and a close friend of Greta Thunberg, Jerome Foster II is a part of an exceptional network of climate and racial justice activists and has led and participated in an impressive array of intersectional climate activist work. Foster first became involved with climate activism in 2018 when he testified publicly in front of the DC District Council in favor of the Clean Energy DC Act, a mandate that works to transition the city to entirely renewable energy. Foster’s outspokenness aided in the bill’s passing in December of 2018. Since then, Foster has founded The Climate Reporter, an international online publication where climate activists and organizations from around the world cand send in articles about upcoming events, personal stories, etc., and he has served as the Washington DC Youth Organizer for Global Climate Strike, the organization at the center of the 2020 global youth climate strikes. Foster also founded and serves as executive director of OneMillionOfUs, a youth voting and advocacy organization dedicated to energizing and empowering young people to vote, particularly in the now past 2020 presidential election. In early 2020 he was given the honor of being named the Youth Environmental Champion for the Audubon Society. Foster is currently enrolled at Harvard University and continues his grassroots climate activist work with passion and hope for the future. Follow along his journey on instagram @jeromefosterii.


Vic Barrett

Having experienced the devastation of climate change firsthand with hurricane Sandy in 2012, 21-year-old Vic Barrett has been a powerful and outspoken proponent of climate action. In 2015, Barrett attended the COP21 UN Conference on Climate Change and the following year spoke at the New York City UN Headquarters, addressing the general assembly on the signing of the Paris Climate Accord. Then, in September of 2019, he led and spoke at the New York City Youth Climate Strike where an estimated 350,000 were in attendance. Today, Barrett is part of a group of 21 youth activists attempting to evoke climate action, particularly cuts to our current CO2 emissions, by suing the US government in Juliana vs United States for violating youth rights by allowing activities such as fracking and fossil fuel burning to continue despite their known harmful impacts to the planet. To learn more about what Vic is up to, follow him on instagram @vicbarrett_.




Bibliography

Ettachfini, Leila. “Isra Hirsi is 16, Unbothered, and Saving the Planet.” Vice. Last modified September 18, 2019. https://www.vice.com/en/article/a357wp/isra-hirsi-ilhan-omar-daughter-climate-strike-profile.

Milloy, Courtland. “Teenage Climate Activist Jerome Foster is in a Race Against Time— and Adults.” Washington Post. Last modified March 10, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/teenage-climate-activist-jerome-foster-is-in-a-race-against-time--and-adults/2020/03/10/86a53fac-618b-11ea-acca-80c22bbee96f_story.html

Smith-Janssen, Karen. “He’s Leading DC’s Movement for Climate Action— and He’s a Senior.” NRDC. Last modified January 30, 2020. https://www.nrdc.org/stories/hes-leading-dcs-movement-climate-action-and-hes-high-school-senior

“Vic Barrett — Institute of Environment and Sustainability.” UCLA. Accessed February 17, 2020. https://www.ioes.ucla.edu/person/vic-barrett/

“19 Youth Climate Activists You Should be Following on Social Media.” Earth Day. Last modified June 14, 2019. https://www.earthday.org/19-youth-climate-activists-you-should-follow-on-social-media/


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