11 May St. Louis People’s Climate March
Written by Rebecca Laurent & Eden Vitoff |
On September 21st 2014, 400,000 people filled the streets of New York City to demand justice. Just two days before the United Nations would convene in New York to discuss solutions to address the threat of climate change, people came together in what would become the largest demonstration for climate action in history. And this didn’t just happen in New York – nearly 2,700 climate marches were held across 162 countries. The people of the world joined hand in hand to send a clear message to world leaders: the time for action is now.
That day, we participated in a march a little closer to home. On the grounds of the St. Louis courthouse, Keiner Plaza, we joined about two hundred other local activists from St. Louis and the surrounding communities. A diverse group gathered for the St. Louis People’s Climate March. Sierra Club members handed out their “Beyond Coal” t-shirts. Students from Washington University held homemade signs. Members of the Climate Reality Project passed around posters and pamphlets. It was a thrill to be part of the crowd. We loved meeting new people and talking to them about our endeavors with our school’s environmental club and the Illinois Youth Environmental Network.
After listening to several inspirational speakers – including a professor at Washington University, a candidate for the Missouri state senate, and a rabbi who taught us a song – we took to the sidewalks. As we assembled, everyone joined in singing the folk tune, “This Land is Your Land.” At the conclusion of the song, the crowd broke into chants as we led the march across the Plaza.
There ain’t no power like the power of the people cause the power of the people don’t stop!
Who’s air? OUR air! Who’s Earth? OUR Earth! Who’s future? OUR future!
What do we want? Clean energy!!
When do we want it? NOW!!
The crowd reconvened at the center of the plaza after the march to listen to speakers say some final remarks, and with that, the march ended. We showed the people of St. Louis that we would not stand silently in the face of injustice. We will not allow carbon polluters and politicians to turn the issue of climate change into a political debate when an overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that global warming is an urgent threat. That day, 600,000 people around the world spoke together with one voice.
And we’re proud to say we were a part of that.
Eden Vitoff and Rebecca Laurent are founders of the Illinois Youth Environmental Network, who attended the St. Louis People’s Climate March representing both YEN and the Edwardsville High School environmental club. They currently serve on the iMatter Youth Council.