Youth Organizing for Climate Justice
Young People on the Frontlines of Climate Change
Frontline youth have always been on the forefront of movements for justice and social change (from the Black Panthers, the Young Lords, American Indian Movement, to the Puerto Rico Independence Movement, to Black Lives Matter and Standing Rock), and that’s also the case in the intergenerational Climate Justice movement.
CJA’s 7 minute video Frontline Youth: Fighting for Climate Justice showcases the beauty and joy of young people who come from a long legacy of intergenerational leadership, grounded in community. Not only are they forging reliable solutions to the climate crisis but they’re also taking a stand against the economic, cultural and democratic devastation that goes hand in hand with our toxic, extractive economy. They are fighting against the culprits of climate change and climate destruction in their own communities, and winning! Our solutions are grounded in our communities’ cultural practices and we are reclaiming the traditions of our ancestors. In the Frontline Youth video, and in the accompanying Youth Spotlight interviews, you’ll learn more about what climate justice means to Frontline Youth and get a glimpse into our lives and struggle for a better world.
“I think the most important thing for young people to know about environmental activism is why you’re doing it…It keeps you motivated and gives you a reason to not give up.”
Hery Zayas, IDEBAJO
“When we fight and denounce injustices it’s not just for the future of those of us out in the streets giving it our all, it’s also a fight on behalf of those that can’t come out, and when those folks don’t have a voice, we have to speak out for them.”
“The most important thing for you to know about environmental activism is that if you don’t fight today, you may not have the tomorrow that you dreamed about.”
Featured Frontline Youth
These youth are a force in the Climate Justice movement, moving a Just Transition to a Regenerative Economy. All the while fighting against the culprits of climate destruction in their communities, and winning. Join us!
Aqelah Amani Amatullah Miyzaan
EMEAC, Detroit, Michigan
My name is Aqelah Miyzaan. I am 18. I am the oldest if 8 children. I was born and raised in detroit but I believe it is my duty to change the world. I also believe it is my duty to be a positive Influence on society. I didn’t Always have a voice so I fought for it. Now that I have it , I will never stop using it for what’s right.
Asli Maat Mwaafrika
Kheprw Institute, Indianapolis, Indiana
Asli Mwaafrika is a senior at Shortridge High School and one of interns at the Kheprw Institute. The Kheprw Institute is a non-for profit, youth ran, community organization that focuses on community empowerment through self mastery. Kheprw is made up of many different initiatives. Asli works in the Marketing department of the center. She contributes to a monthly youth newsletter, and is one of the youth involved in the collaborative work of the CJA (Climate Justice Alliance) along with facilitating community forums. For over 6 years, Asli, enjoys the work she does. She believes that making change in her community will lead to the change in communities on a global scale.
UPROSE, Brooklyn, New York
IDEBAJO, Salinas, Puerto Rico
Ironbound Community Corporation, Newark, New Jersey
UPROSE, Brooklyn, New York
Nyiesha Mallett is an artist and Climate Justice Youth leader. Nyiesha was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and grew up in a Caribbean household. Her mother was born on the island of Grenada, so she understands the massive effects that climate change has on Caribbean countries of color like Puerto Rico and Grenada who contribute the least to climate change but experience the brunt of the crisis. Nyiesha joined UPROSE in 2015 at the age of 14 not knowing much about climate change but rose to leadership. In 2017, she spoke at the People’s Climate March Rally. In 2019 Nyisha was a co-organizer of the Climate Justice Youth Summit.
Soil Generation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Nyseem Smith is a community organizer based out of north-central Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but the reach of his work spans the city and encompasses the world and its issues. Passionate about youth development around black and brown young people, his works have been focused on community supporting one another from within their communities. Having begun organizing in 2008, Nyseem has gained firsthand knowledge and experience around organizing and advocacy through projects and travels that have taken him far while maintaining his focus on youth. He acknowledges that is the greatest role yet is that of an older brother and son. While he can take the best of skills passed down by his parents and grandparents, he can apply them not just to his work but is able to give back to his family and be impactful and caring at the same time. Being an animal lover and a doggy dad to a rescue pet named North, also allows him to see the transformations possible through love and caring which enhances his role as organizer and advocate.
PODER, San Francisco, California
I’m Mariana Rodriguez, I am a senior in high school and I’ve been with PODER working for environmental justice and economic justice with addressing things like gentrification and finding climate solutions to help the low income community of San Francisco.
Micronesia Climate Change Alliance, Tamuning, Guam
Phillip Cruz is a 29-year-old member of the Micronesia Climate Change Alliance on the island of Guam. Since he graduated with his Bachelor’s in Business Administration in 2012, he has been the Sustainability Coordinator for the University of Guam Center for Island Sustainability providing outreach and education to various audiences on topics such as energy literacy, waste management, and coral reef conservation. His passion for advancing the sustainability of the environment motivates him to continue advocating for climate justice and environmental stewardship in Guam. His favorite memory of 2019 was representing his island home at the Climate Justice Youth Summit in Brooklyn, NY in September. Phillip believes that if communities come together and fight for what is right for themselves and for future generations, then change could happen.
Southwest Workers Union, San Antonio, Texas
Selene Garcia is part of the CJA member group Southwest Workers Union (SWU) in San Antonio, Texas. As an organization of low-income, working class families and youth, SWU unites in one collective struggle for self-governance based on dignity, respect, justice and liberation. SWU organizes its grassroots members through de-colonization, emancipatory education, leadership development and direct action for worker rights, environmental justice, and systemic change.
The Southwest Workers Union envisions all inclusive sustainable healthy communities rooted in dignity, justice and respect for self-determination, social-economic well-being autonomy and pachamama.