The first thing I noticed was the noise. Deafening screams, chants, and yells that were almost indistinguishable from each other. I had just emerged from the Government Center T-stop, homemade protest poster in hand, ready to join the enormous crowd gathered at the Global Climate Strike in Boston.
Being one of an estimated 7,000 people was a very new feeling for me. My eyes darted from poster to poster, desperately searching for fear of missing a funny sign or an interesting slogan. My friends and I stood still for a few moments, taking in the sheer magnitude of the event. People of all ages were in attendance. There were moms pushing babies in strollers alongside elderly couples with signs that had clearly been recycled from previous marches.
The first part of the strike was a rally outside City Hall Plaza. There were some incredible speakers, from high school students to refugees, who spoke from a stage positioned in the center of it all. It certainly felt like an inclusive event where every person would be welcomed regardless of their background or life experience. Each and every one of us felt empowered, striking next to people who feel the same passion for environmental issues that we do.
On the edges of the rally, there were tables full of food and stickers, and you could take a seat on the stairs that lined the plaza next to those. I watched and cheered with the crowd during dance performances, chants, and songs. Periodically, the speakers would instruct us to turn to someone near us and high five each other, or congratulate each other for sticking up for what we believe in.
The most interesting part of the experience was getting to talk to so many different people from all walks of life. I had a conversation with a grandparent whose sign read, “Please explain to me why you don’t care about what happens to your children.” I laughed with a six-year-old girl holding a drawing that said, “Don’t mess with my future.” I’ve always known that climate change is an issue that unites people, but being able to experience the movement first hand was so incredibly cool.
After the rally, we started the short march from Boston City Hall to the State House. I got to participate in lots of chants and felt energized by the passion pulsing within the crowd. At one point, I even got to start a round of one of the most popular chants: “Hey, hey, ho ho, climate change has got to go!” It was a hot day for September in Boston––the irony of which was not lost on me––and people were passing around bottles of sunscreen.
Everyone was ready and willing to help their fellow strike companions, which was amazing. My friends helped me hold my sign that read, “The climate is changing… why aren’t we?” way up high since my arms were too short to get it above the crowd. I saw many other groups helping each other carrying their signs, and some of them were complete strangers. The support we felt from one another is what fueled us to march on, and it propelled others to head right through the doors of the State House.
While the Climate Strike was an incredible event that brought months of work to fruition, let’s not forget that this is only the beginning. The people of Boston and the people of the world will not stop until climate change is addressed and action is taken.