Climate Strike: The Road to Change

Story by Rhea Newnaha and Becca Paz

“There is no planet B.” “Stand up for what you stand on.” “Respect your mother.” These are some messages students paraded through Washington, D.C. during the 2022 global climate strike.

On March 25, students from various schools in the DMV banned together in front of the white house to get one message across: climate change needs to be addressed.

“What we’re demanding is taking science and implementing that into action,” Marshall’s strike organizer and sophomore Sabal Dangi said. “That includes forcing government officials to declare a national emergency, reinvest in our communities, and just bringing awareness to all the overexploited nations and solutions towards that.”

Dangi said he is leading students at the protest with guidance from global strike coordinators located in the D.C. area as well as the Friday For Future program.

“Bringing awareness is a main thing because here at Marshall, what I’ve noticed is there wasn’t really much awareness or anything really being done to bring this issue to light,” Dangi said.

Sophomore Sasha Friefeld said she finds the future implications of climate change to be concerning.

“We want to hold politicians accountable to promises that they’ve made relating to the climate,” Friefeld said. “That’s why we’re [protesting] in front of the White House. But mostly to bring awareness and gather people together to show a big group of people does have a passion for this.”

Freshman Simryn Tolani says that President Joe Biden’s proclamation of putting sums of money towards the climate has not been met.

“I think everybody needs to be a little bit more open-minded and realize that like, as one of the posters said, there is no planet B,” Tolani said. “There is no second chance, this is our Earth, this is our planet.”

Sophomore Mariam Diallo has always had an interest in climate change issues and in comparing them and the efforts made to resolve them in different countries.

“I had never imagined a way to be able to participate in a social issues activity at this age, but I’m so glad I was even given the opportunity,” Diallo said. “I hope that others also follow their interests and find ways to be involved, even if it seems difficult.”

Sophomore Finn Wormer said his reason for protesting is to make an impact by sending messages of climate change. He hopes people hear them and make a difference.

“The future shouldn’t be thrown away,” Wormer said. “I think that our children and our children’s children will be greatly affected by this and maybe even us. I think it comes sooner than most people think.”

Sophomore Tola Reasons said the key to getting the a message across is finding unity among protesters and gathering more people to send the message.

“The idea that this [planet] is the only thing that we have left, it’s not just important, but it’s kind of scary,” Reasons said. “People need to pay more attention to it because it’s something that needs to be brought to their faces.”

Dangi said he encourages students to use their voices to enact change. He hopes to continue initiatives to raise awareness about climate change and help move along the journey to a cleaner planet.

Exploring the protest through the lens of a photographer

Photo essay by Rhea Newnaha

Along the path from the White House to the Capitol, protesters marched on Mar. 25 against political negligence of climate change. In front of the hoard, rushing to stay ahead, were the documenters of the event: the photographers.

Being this was my first time taking pictures for a non-school event, I was nervous to hold the camera up and press the button. My starting shots were more localized, but seeing the device in others’ hands gave me more confidence. 

Over the next hour, I learned a photographer can experience the protest from many vantages. We have the choice to act as participants or onlookers to get the perfect angle.

I searched for different perspectives to take my shot. I looked for higher ground (building stairs or potted plants lining the street), ran ahead of the crowd, and even let myself get swallowed by the wave of people in pursuit of the perfect picture.

Within the group, people paraded signs saying short phrases like “the oceans are rising, so are we,” and even one with a picture of an oxygen mask with the caption, “the next mask mandate.” 

Along with the signs, chants echoed through the streets: “what does democracy look like? This is what democracy looks like,” and “no more coal, no more oil, keep the carbon in the soil.”

To keep ahead of the crowd, I had to run occasionally or speed walk, causing my calves to almost cramp up. The afternoon sun did not make this any easier.

With the Capitol straight ahead, I did something I had yet to do for the past hour. I slowed down and let the crowd pass me.

Once the group reached their final destination, they gathered once more to express why they banded together in the first place.

“I want you all to remember that you are the people who have the power even if you are not the lawmakers because what we need to do now is unite the people,” Montgomery Blair high school junior Anna Uehlein said in a speech to the crowd.

Uehlein said legislators have made proponents of fighting climate change feel like “the bad guys.”

“[Lawmakers] are the ones investing in dirty energy that is going to come around to killing all of us,” she said. “It’s going to kill them just as much as it is going to kill us.”

Earth Day: The action continues

Video by Rhea Newnaha

On April 22—Earth Day—students gathered once again in front of the White House. Rank & File returned with them to capture the moment.