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"This Is Our Time. This Is Our Future." Voices from the Historic Youth Climate Strike in NYC

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VIC BARRETT: and to protect our people.

CROWD: and to protect our people.

VIC BARRETT: Thank you.

VARSHINI PRAKASH: My name is Varshini. It is a pleasure to be with you here today. So, I want to say, when I first learned about the climate crisis as a kid, like, I would lie awake at night, my heart pounding, when I thought about what this would mean for my people. I couldn't get the images out of my head right? Of what people would do to each other when they didn't have food, when they didn't have water and when they sought sanctuary and were faced with cages and guns instead. And I felt alone and small and powerless. And I know that that is the story that so many young people are feeling right now.

We have grown up seeing the political establishment fail us. And for twice as long as I have been alive on this planet, we have known about the crisis. For just as long, the wealthy and the powerful have profited off of pollution, have lied to millions of people about the science, have choked our democracy with their Big Oil dollars and stolen our futures.

Today, this generation is taking over! Our days of waiting for justice, our days of waiting for action, our days of waiting to be heard are over! Am I right? Today, we are putting our feet in the streets, and we are not stopping until we get it done! Today, kids don't have to feel small and alone and powerless, because we have a movement that is globally shaking the roots of our society, that is getting millions of people involved in action. And striking is how we can stop the worst of the climate crisis and get a Green New Deal...

And if we want to win, we are going to need tens of millions of Americans to join us in the streets. If we are going to win, we have to bring society and our economy to a standstill and make it happen. If we are going to win, politicians are going to have to know that they will win or lose based off of where they stand on this issue.

And we can do it. We've been here before as a people. In 1970, on the first Earth Day, 20 million people were in the streets. During the civil rights movement, young students and young people were arrested and took action and took risks by the tens of thousands. And that's what it takes to make change in this country.

So I need all of you to be with me here in this fight. So I want you to imagine striking not just for one day, but day after day, marching and demonstrating incessantly, even shutting down our cities and schools and businesses to stop business as usual, unless we get what we want and need as a generation. Are you with me in that fight? So today is a glorious start. And tomorrow the fight continues, and I want to see you there.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Varshini Prakash, co-founder and executive director of the Sunrise Movement, joining a quarter of a million people in New York alone who marched from Foley Square to Battery Park in downtown New York City. Democracy Now! was there in the streets. When we come back, you'll hear some of the voices of the marchers, as well as a part of Greta Thunberg's speech. Stay with us.

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Democracy Now!  is a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program hosted by journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. Pioneering the largest public media collaboration in the U.S., Democracy Now! is broadcast on (more...)
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