Follow Her: To the Boston Climate Strike

I’ve been to my fair share of activist events — three years of Boston’s Women’s March, Washington DC’s March for Our Lives, and as of Friday the 20th of September, I’ve been to the Boston division of the Global Climate Strike. It would make sense that maybe I have a profound interest in politics, and maybe that’s true to an extent, but frankly I’m just tired of sitting around and waiting for things to change. Might as well get as involved as possible. Plus, I can give a good chant or two. 

    I went with some friends and we got to City Hall Plaza, the site of the main rally, about an hour and 20 minutes into speeches. We were met with high energy crowds of about 8,000 people, people ranging from young toddlers on their parents’ backs, to high schoolers (many with signs acknowledging that they had to miss school in order to attend), to college students and older people who expressed a need to save the planet for their own children and grandchildren. 

Photo courtesy of Madyn Godfrey

    The speeches, or the ones that we caught, were moving lectures given by members of various climate initiative groups in the Greater Boston area. One particular speech that stuck with me was given by a representative of the Sunrise Movement Boston, a youth-led organization dedicated to ending the influence of fossil fuels funding political leaders. They spoke about the need for members of congress to finally address the climate crisis (one of the highest-scale climate related crises to date), and for a rise in action from the country’s youth. 

     For my whole life, I’d heard about the detriment of fossil fuels and the impending crisis they will cause our planet and worried that no one cared enough to fix it. But finally, surrounded by thousands of people all with the same worries and passion to make a difference, change felt more at hand than ever. 

    Before it was time to march, a speaker led the ground in a rendition of the song “Anthem” by Leonard Cohen. It was a song written in the early 90’s with themes of political and social justice which matched the event perfectly. The lyrics filled City Hall Plaza, giving me goosebumps. 

    There is a crack, a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in. 

    The actual march to the State House began and so did the chants. Everywhere you turned, you could see people smiling and laughing and waving signs varying from funny memes, to political statements, to serious calls to action. Among my favorites included, “Be part of the solution, not the pollution,” “I stand for what I stand on,”and a simple (yet effective) “Stop being dumb.”It was pretty powerful stuff seeing the streets of Boston, typically filled with traffic, now filled with passionate protesters with various backgrounds yet united under a common ground. Further, upon getting home, seeing images from other strikes in different cities left me amazed with what the current generation could accomplish. Roughly 4 million people internationally gathered in their local cities to make a statement on the climate crisis. That’s about 6 times the population of Boston alone.

    The street leading up to the State House was full, enough that I couldn’t make out anything but a flood of signs and people as far in front and behind me as I could see when standing up on my tip-toes.

Photo courtesy of Madyn Godfrey

    Once the strike reached the gates of the State House, around 100 or so protestors went inside to make the strike’s presence and demands known. These demands included that Boston Governor, Charlie Baker, declare a statewide climate emergency, that lawmakers create policies to help those in polluted and impoverished areas, and that Massachusetts begin taking the steps to ban the use of fossil fuels. 

    The scene outside however, where I was, was a lot more laid-back. A brass band consisting of volunteers from a local group called The Boston Area Brigade of Activist Musicians played loud music to keep the atmosphere upbeat. Small groups formed of people dancing and laughing still all while holding their signs and keeping up the chanting. Overall, it was hands down one of the more ‘fun’ political protest events that I’ve attended. Organizers of the rally mixed into general crowds as people sang and held hands and danced with the strangers next to them. It was sort of what I imagine Coachella to be—a bunch of sweaty people, running high on adrenaline, singing and dancing entirely off-beat. Except it’s in the middle of Boston, and about a fifteenth of the size, and with a volunteer brass band instead of Beyonce. So maybe not the same. But honestly, I preferred this. 

Photo courtesy of Madyn Godfrey

    The rally outside lasted around another hour before the crowds started to thin and we decided to head back to campus. The train station was pretty crowded, with most people toting signs and flyers from the day’s event. It almost felt like a second rally, with people still waving their banners and conversing with strangers about the climate and ways to combat the growing crisis. 

    The thing that really stuck with me, however, even when I was back home from the event, was that all of it was possible because of this generation’s youth and the drive they have. I don’t doubt that because of them, the planet has a far brighter future.