Celebrating the Enduring Legacy of Black Activists Who Birthed the Environmental Justice Movement
Feb 24, 2023
At LCV’s annual New York dinner, Jerome Foster II, a youth climate activist, addressed the crowd, urging them to join in efforts to protect the future of his generation. During Jerome’s speech we were able to hear the story behind a young activist’s pledge to environmental change. As a leader in the youth climate movement, Jerome organizes strikes with Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future movement and joins Jane Fonda’s Fire Drill Fridays to call for immediate climate action. And, Jerome has started his own initiative called OneMillionOfUs to encourage young voters to do their part in elections. His goal is to make change by encouraging young people to exercise their right to vote, because, as he says, “Today we strike, tomorrow we vote.”
Jerome inspired the audience at our dinner — excerpts from his speech are below:
I am here on behalf of young people worldwide. For the young girl in Guatemala starving because of drought; for the young boy in Sumatra whose entire rainforest community is set ablaze for the extraction of palm oil; for the mother in Beijing who attended her 3-year-old daughter’s funeral because she breathed in the toxic air of the city. I speak for the millions suffering at the destructive hands of the fossil fuel industry.
At every turn atrocities are happening. If you take away nothing else from what I say tonight, know that the youth of this world need to be protected by you, because we are being used and neglected by those in power who choose profits over life. However, you being here today, tells us our voices matter, our futures matter, and most importantly our lives matter.
I have been an avid explorer and hiker since I was very young and since traveled around the world, researching and reporting in hopes of understanding this crisis. Every Friday, I strike at the White House with FridaysForFuture and at the Capitol with Jane Fonda’s Fire Drill Fridays. We are sacrificing our education to save our future…Will you strike with us?
I am here to tell you that the 7 million young voices who took to the streets on September 20th are very loud and getting louder. We are taking a world-wide stand for climate justice with the knowledge, integrity, and u7 insight to advocate for an equitable solution.
The vast majority of those suffering the consequences of the climate crisis are indigenious women of color trying to feed their children. They are confronted with food shortages, famine, and death. Nearly 1,000 children a day are dying because of this crisis.
When I interned for the American Hero, the Honorable John Lewis, I learned that this will be a tough fight, yet we must be determined to stand against injustice. Civil Rights are Human Rights and human rights are Environmental Rights… NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT. That is why I stand with the frontline fighters like the Native Americans in North Dakota as they bravely fight for their land and water. History shows that voting is the sword that cuts through all injustice. One person, one vote is the great equalizer of humanity. My mission is to show that we have the power to create a more just democracy that represents all of us.
I founded OneMillionOfUs to empower, educate, and register one million young people to vote in the 2020 elections and beyond. As a great and honorable president once said, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.” We are no longer waiting, we are acting. I am here to ask you to become one of the million. Talk to young people about the importance of voting and have them visit one million of us’ website and learn about the power of voting. We have become united by this crisis so we have to become united in the solution.
There are two things I know for sure (1) we will not be silent and (2) we will vote in the millions. Two degrees is what separates us from living or dying. OneMillionOfUs and the youth of the world will fight, but soon we will vote. The solution lies in what I say everyday, “TODAY WE STRIKE AND TOMORROW WE VOTE.”