Clarkies Strike for Climate Change

Gari De Ramos, Scarlet Staff

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On the morning of Friday, September 20, roughly 100 Clarkies, students from University Park Campus School, and Worcester residents gathered in Red Square at 9:00 am as part of the Global Youth Climate Strikes. 

Attendees were carrying various signs and posters aimed to push government officials to take concrete climate action with statements like “there is no planet B” and “like the oceans, we rise.”

The meet-up at Clark was only one of several congregations around Worcester. Students and residents near Holy Cross and Worcester Polytechnic Institute also met in the morning to march to City Hall and arrived by 10:00 am. 

The meet up at Clark was largely organized by Michelle Sayles, the Associate Director of the Clark-convened Council on the Uncertain Human Future & A New Earth Conversation, as well as William Westgard-Cruice, a PhD student at Clark, and additional help from Clark Climate Justice and other student organizers. 

At about 9:30 am, Westgard-Cruice broke down the logistics of the demonstration so all attendees were on the same page about the strike’s nonviolent nature. Afterwards, the crowd made its way down Main Street, shouting chants like “ain’t no power like the power of people and the power of people don’t stop” and “hey hey, ho ho, fossil fuels have got to go.” Once at City Hall, the crowd converged with participants and organizers who had come from other campuses. 

“This was far more than we expected,” Cloude McLoughlin, a Worcester Youth Climate Strike organizer, said of the size of Clark’s crowd. 

Once everyone had arrived at City Hall, a series of speakers began addressing the crowd. The two most notable speakers were Xochitl Cruz-Gallo, 13, and Jaden Fernando, 8. In their speeches, the two children shared personal stories of how the climate crisis has affected them. 

“When I hear about all the changes that are happening in the world right now because of climate change and when I hear about all the things that will happen in my lifetime, it’s scary to me and to other kids,” said Xochitl Cruz-Gallo, an 8th grader at St. Peter Central Catholic.  “But if I know my government is doing everything it can, then it would feel a lot safer.”

“Children, especially the poor and colored children, bear the most burden of climate change,” said Jadon Fernando, son of Clark Professor Jude Fernando. “If you know the horrible situation children face, why are you not doing enough to change it? If you do not know about it, please ask the children.”

The Youth Climate Strike comes just three days after the Worcester City Council unanimously passed a Climate Emergency Declaration, which declares a climate emergency in the City of Worcester and proposes a comprehensive and inclusive framework for addressing the crisis. Part of an international movement to pass Climate Emergency declarations around the world, Worcester is the first city in Massachusetts and the largest city in New England (joined by New Haven, CT) to pass such a declaration.

The day following the Youth Climate Strike, the Council on the Uncertain Human Future hosted a Climate Teach-In that was attended by Clarkies, Worcester residents, and other activists. Here, attendees unpacked concepts like climate justice and divestment, as well as brainstorming community adaptation policies. 

Upcoming events related to September’s month of climate action include a climate crisis film series at Worcester State University from Sept 23 to Sept 2 and a second Global Climate Strike on Friday, Sept 27.