Exhilaration pumped through my veins as I rode the T into the city, my homemade sign in hand. Off the train, up the stairs, across the park… I made my way over to the meeting point under a canopy of summer-green leaves, and I was suddenly surrounded by people holding their own signs and talking about climate action. More and more people showed up every minute. After reviewing some safety rules and strike chants, we hit the streets!
This was my first climate rally: Friday September 24th, 2021, with Our Climate and Massachusetts Youth Climate Council (MYCC). I had attended the meetings, worked out logistics, sent dozens of outreach emails all for this moment.
I held my poster with another Our Climate member, and we walked, side by side, in the center of the sea of people. Everytime I turned my head, I saw a new sign I hadn’t seen before, heard a new chant starting, and felt our determination with each footstep. People stopped to watch us move through the streets, perhaps snapping a photo of the event, perhaps asking someone what was happening. I lifted my sign and my voice higher, willing our message to those on the sidewalks: we should implement corporate polluter fees, and we should equitably transition to renewable energy. My voice was sandpaper, tired from requesting bold climate action from our legislators, but I pushed through.
When we finally reached the state house, we paused. While some groups were arranging themselves for a photo, I stared up past the steps to the golden dome. We were golden, shining to all the corners of the city, through the walls of the statehouse to our legislators. For that moment in front of the state house, we poured our hearts into our words and amped up the volume with our energy.
Behind that energy, we shared specific asks for transparency, environmental justice, and climate education as enumerated in the MYCC Policy Priorities. The moment passed, and we moved on, circling back around the path-crossed grass of the Common.
We gathered at the World War 2 memorial’s concrete column for our speakers. Jade Woods spoke about her experience with climate change coming from the floodplains of Louisiana. Though I have never been there, I felt the danger and fear of rising sea levels. Dania Hallak, a Syrian refugee, told her family’s story and her relation to climate change both in Syria and now in Massachusetts. Her global perspective on climate change opened my mind to impacts outside of my own community, outside even my own country. Every word each person spoke was filled with passion for climate justice, and their words filled me both with excitement and thought-provoking ideas for me to ponder. My voice shot, my feet sore from walking and standing for so long, I headed back to the T to go home.
With the speakers’ words ringing in my ears, I’m now turning to our next big event: Lobby. The whole time, I was thinking about what the speakers had said, about their lives as climate refugees, activists, and so much more, and I connected those to what I had felt walking in the streets. I learned so much at the rally – about our environment, organizing, intersectionality, and the people in my community –, so I would say that my first climate rally was a success. I’m looking forward to when I get to experience that once more.By Julia Dickinson