Student organizers of the #NationalSchoolWalkout held at Herbert Hoover High School on March 14. (Photo courtesy of Erika Martinez / HS Insider)
Hoover High School

Change starts with teens

Throughout our country’s history, some of the most influential movements have all had one thing in common: young adults. From the Vietnam War to the March For Our Lives, we have seen the fearlessness of teens and their strong desire to implement change.

The importance of our voice is underestimated, as we are often overlooked by the majority of the population. What sets us apart is our determination and passion about the outcome of the movement we choose to conduct.

In the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement was in the midst of changing our country forever. The youth were instrumental in this movement and participated in some of the most important aspects of it, including desegregating schools in the Jim Crow South, challenging racism during Freedom Rides and ultimately pushed forward voter rights and civil rights legislation.

Along with these many movements imbedded in civil rights, young adolescents created the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a group that embraced nonviolent protest and helped train many of the movement’s foot soldiers. Fueled by the youth’s rejection of white supremacy, the group was once the nation’s largest and most well-organized civil rights group. Ultimately, the SNCC played an eminent role in African American youth’s conquest for equality.

The student movement that helped bring to an end the Vietnam War was sparked by the tremendous success of young adults protesting for civil rights. As over 2 million young men were drafted into the U.S. military, it was no coincidence that they were at the helm of this new revolution.

Across the United States, students marched, conducted sit-ins and agitated against the war. The protests electrified and divided the American public, who debated whether students should be allowed to protest or stopped. Members of major groups like Students for a Democratic Society, one of the major drivers in the anti-war movement were targeted by the FBI.

As a result of this new wave of protests, America pulled out of the Vietnam War, crediting the youth in making the deciding effort.

From the 1960s until now, not much has changed regarding the power of our young voices.

We are in the midst of the “March For Our Lives” movement sparked by none other than our teens. We are yet again witnessing change created by citizens who have just barely become eligible to vote. We are ready for this new wave of America, but the change must start with us and that is exactly what we are doing.