Youth Voice Youth Vote 2019

Tell me what democracy looks like? THIS is what democracy looks like.

On April 10, 2019, 130 civically-charged teens from around the country–Chicago, IL; Los Angeles CA; Greenville, SC; Buffalo, NY; Flint, MI; Houston, TX; Tarboro, NC–converged in Queens, NY, the most diverse part of our diverse country. These amazing young change makers started by filling the walls with their thoughts about important issues of the day.

The energy in the room was infectious. Lavie Raven delivered an irresistible opening Call to Action, reminding people of highlights from last year’s conference; underscoring where we are at this moment in our country and the world, with young people taking the lead in social action movements; and sharing some (powerful) spoken word he wrote on the plane…

Socrates Ortiz, principal of Middle College High School @LaGuardia, provided a rousing welcome to NYC and to this conference:

YVote Lead Facilitator Melody Benitez shared some of her pathway to activism and invited everyone to bring their fullest selves to the convening.

She warmed up the room with a concentric circle activity through which people quickly got to know, and love, one another.

Next, we split into cross-school groups to further develop bonds and collective power. Each group was asked to explore what they had in common and to come up with a name to express those identities.

Listen in the powerful and creative names each group came up with and their reasons why:

It was time to dig deeper, which we did through a Fish Bowl of youth sharing their thoughts about “why vote?”–and why so many of their peers don’t, and what we can do to change the statistics.

We were all wowed by the depth and authenticity of student reflections in the fishbowl, and shared reflections on what we heard and the kind of change-making it can lead to:

We followed with equally provocative fishbowl conversations about party politics and partisanship:

So what did we learn about being effective activists and organizers from all we said and heard tonight? Melody summed it all up.

And this was only night #1! Stay tuned for all that lies ahead