Brandeis students join Boston Climate Strike
Students missed their classes on Friday to attend the Climate Strike in Boston.
Brandeis community members joined thousands of other individuals in the Boston Climate Strike on Friday to demand climate justice. Over 600,000 people marched across the United States and 4 million people marched around the world in hundreds of similar climate strikes.
An estimated 7,000 to 9,000 people attended the climate strike that took place in Boston — sources varied on the exact number in attendance. Boston’s climate strikers made a list of demands for Massachusetts policymakers and voiced demands that unified strikers around the world. Among the list of requests, students urged Governor Charlie Baker to sign a proposed resolution which would declare a climate emergency for the state of Massachusetts.
The strikers used clever signage to their advantage in conveying their message. Students held signs that said “I’m sure the dinosaurs thought they had time too” and “this is not what I meant by hot girl summer.”
Sienna DeBenedittis ’21 and Rebecca Weiss ’21 were among the Brandeis students that attended the march. DeBenedittis told the Justice that “climate change scares me and I’ve learned a lot about it in my environmental classes at school,” and that it is “really important to come out here and do whatever we can.” Weiss added, “I think that it's important for people to go to big events like this because if some people decide to skip it, then a lot of people decide to skip it.”
The speaker portion of the rally lasted almost two hours, as the organizers had planned multiple speakers. The speakers came from diverse backgrounds ranging from college students to politicians, but they all stressed the importance of the climate strike and climate justice for all.
Michelle Wu, a member of Boston’s City Council and one of the speakers at the climate strike, stressed the importance of recognizing climate change. “We’re here because Boston is especially vulnerable,” Wu said. “Families will be displaced because of the rising seas. But most of all, we are here today because there is a bright, beautiful future ahead of us that we just need to grab hold of together and lift everyone up.”
Other speakers at the event included Gina McCarthy, who headed the Environmental Protection Agency under former President Barack Obama, and Mariama White-Hammond, a minister for ecological justice.
At the conclusion of the speaker portion of the strike, organizers directed people to march towards the State House. Attendees flooded the streets, chanting popular climate justice slogans like, “‘What do we want?’ ‘A Green New Deal.’ ‘When do we want it?’ ‘Now!’” Attendees waited by the State House gates until some eventually made it inside the State House, where banners were dropped and signs were held high.
Despite Congress taking steps to pass the Green New Deal, Lisa Gorelik ’22 said that “there’s been a big lack of even acknowledgment of the climate crisis” among lawmakers.
Prof. Sabine von Mering (ENVS), who organized the Brandeis delegation to the climate strike, agreed, telling the Justice that “our legislators in the [Massachusetts] State House are too dependent on fossil fuel money to enact the kind of sweeping legislation we urgently need to turn the ship around.”
In an interview with the Justice, von Mering said, “I didn’t just go [to the climate strike]. I walked around in a polar bear costume for weeks ahead of the strike.” The reason she did all of this and more, she said, was “because history shows us that change requires collective action, and the only way for us to know that this is the change we all want is to get together.”
Gorelik told the Justice that in her Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies class, they discussed how “the face of poverty is feminine and how disproportionately women are going to be affected by climate change because they are also affected by poverty.”
Miranda Sullivan ’22, another attendee of the climate strike, told the Justice, “If you want to fight for women, you also have to fight for the climate and for all people. … I think it’s all linked and for me, it’s important to get out [there] and show that I care.”
The climate strike on Friday isn’t the last of the protests that will take place for climate justice, with another strike scheduled for Sept. 27. Friday’s climate strike was organized by the Fridays for Future network, while the Sept. 27 strike is part of Earth Strike, “a general strike to save the planet,” according to Earth Strike’s website.
—Editor’s Note: Justice Editor Gilda Geist participated in the Boston Climate Strike. She did not edit or contribute to this article.