Global climate strike brings large turnout in Ann Arbor


A reported 7,500 people, including many students, congregated on Ingalls Mall in downtown Ann Arbor on Friday, September 20 as part of a global climate strike.

At 11 a.m., students at Pioneer met outside the flagpole entrance, then made their way downtown to join the other strikers.

Pioneer High School junior Annie Chen, who helped to put together the walkout, said that an important part of the walkout and strike is raising awareness of the crisis. “The movement and the momentum that we’re building with this strike will help cement this message into our representatives heads that climate change is a thing that is important right now,” she said of her hopes before the strike.

Leela Grimsby, a Pioneer junior who also helped organize the walkout, said she hoped that everyone had fun at the walk out, but also that people in power saw the importance of action. “I just hope everyone has a good time and the people with their hands on the lever of power listen and do something,” Grimsby said.

The many speakers at the strike shared the goal of drawing attention to the movement and gaining support for the Green New Deal, which includes provisions for a green economy, sustainable agriculture, and a reduction of carbon emissions. However junior Naina Agrawal-Hardinr at Washtenaw International High School, a major contributor to the organization of the strike county-wide, reminded the crowd that it was important to learn from the strike and subsequent workshops as well.

“We all have the power and the duty to act. We must show educational administrators, elected officials and executives that whether or not they choose to join us, we will not give up on the fight for our future. The way to do that is to get educated. We may not be in school, but we will learn something today because knowledge is power,” Agrawal-Hardin said.

Grimsby said the strike was important because climate change is a big issue that the government is not handling the problem. “It’s the most urgent crisis our generation faces. We only have eleven years before climate change is irreversible and obviously no one else is doing anything about it, so we have to take the initiative,” Grimsby said.

The Washtenaw County Climate Strike, and similar strikes around the world, are unique in that they are being led by young people. Chen said she thought this was an important part of the strike. “I think one of the coolest things about this global movement is that it is mainly led by young people,” Chen said. “Recently, in Washington D.C. there were a group of kids that were confronting Congress about this and the fact that they were kids is incredible…  The fact that it is children that are doing this because the adults don’t care enough, says something very significant.”

In Ann Arbor specifically, Chen said most of the people involved ranged from eighth grade to college students. On a global level, one of the first climate strikes was held by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg at Swedish Parliament in August of 2018. Since then, several global events have occurred, all initiated by young people. This one was in preparation for the U.N. climate summit happening in New York beginning on Sept. 23.

The youngest speaker at the strike, Hannah Port, an eighth grader from Tappan Middle School, said it was important to get involved to give everyone a future. “This is something that affects everyone. No matter where you live or who you are, you’re going to be affected by climate change, and our futures are going to be affected by climate change,” Port said. “I want a future for my friends, my family. I want my little sister to grow up in a world where she doesn’t have to be scared of if she’ll have a future.”