Increase in Student Attending Protests

Considering that Annandale is less than half an hour away from the White House, students are often given the unique opportunity to be able to attend protests, rallies or advocate in person for whichever cause they choose. Since quarantine, the amount of students attending such events has increased drastically.

For students, protests are one way that they can make a difference in the political community. “I feel like most people’s voices aren’t heard, through protest you have a collective, larger voice making it easier to be taken seriously,” junior Shawn Jackson said.

More and more families are making an effort to include their children in their journeys as activists. “I’ve grown up going to protests with my mom. Through these experiences I’ve developed skills that have helped me engage in activism on my own,” Jackson said.

One question that parents, families and students struggle with is: What age is appropriate for kids to enter the political arena? “I don’t think any age is too early to get involved in working to make things better…” Jackson said.

Going to a protest is an experience. Traveling into DC, marching, chanting, listening and soaking in all of the energy produced by a group of people all fighting for the same cause. “I like going to protests because it’s such an easy way to show your support and help out,”  junior Anaya Thompson said. “Living near DC, we’re able to hear speakers and their stories in person. It’s always so emotional but educational and I learn a lot after every protest,”.

Protests bring people together. Everyone in one place working towards the same goal creates a sense of community and camaraderie. “The energy carried by a large group of people with the same passion and drive for improvement is powerful and being in that environment inspired me as an individual to bring change,” senior Ruftana Beyene said.

There’s a strong difference between adults taking action and students taking action. As children, they are not only fighting for a better world for the generation that follows but also a better future for themselves.

Another reason that you might see groups of teens at the next protest you attend is because of the effects of the issue you’re protesting. “…more and more of the issues are directly affecting the people our age,” Jackson said.

Some students take action without calling themselves activists. “I don’t consider myself an activist yet,” Beyene said. “I believe there is so much more I can be doing to help my community and other disadvantaged groups. With that being said I do see activism in my future and I have looked into different opportunities for activism,”.

Activism among young people has become a popular topic and so has performative activism. Performative activism is advocating for a cause for social benefits rather than actual devotion. “I consider myself an activist because I try my best to learn and show my support for the current political issues going on in our country,” Thompson said.

The memories created at these events last a lifetime and help form students’ outlook on the world. “If kids attend protests at an early age they grow up with a mindset that they as a human being matter can make a difference, they don’t grow up with the idea that the way things are is the way things have to be. Through protest change is possible and attainable,” Jackson said.

Students look back on the issues that they fought for and can feel good about the fact that they stood up for their beliefs. “I think it is important for students to be involved in activism because it really shows something to be on the right side of history and with everything going on I think it’s important to speak up,” Thompson said.

Next time you’re fighting against injustice or trying to make a difference, take a look around and see who’s fighting with you.