A delegation of Boston College students traveled to downtown Boston to participate in the Global Climate Strike this past Friday.
Organized by Climate Justice at Boston College (CJBC) and EcoPledge, the group of roughly 80 students assembled on the Academic Quad in front of Gasson Hall at 9:30 am, and proceeded to travel as a group to Boston City Hall, they were joined by another estimated 50 students who traveled to the strike on their own.
At the initial gathering on campus, CJBC member Daniel McCarthy, MCAS ‘20, encouraged the crowd, saying “history proves that students have real power.” Reaffirming the purpose of this event, McCarthy listed various groups who will face the greatest consequences of climate injustice, and said “for them, we will strike.”
Another student called out BC for what he deemed “selective Catholicism,” criticizing what he sees as the school’s hypocrisy for supposedly espousing Catholic values while simultaneously turning a blind eye to this global crisis.
McCarthy highlighted this point later on, stating that as a Jesuit institution, BC “has a moral obligation” to respond to this injustice, which they are “failing to meet.” As the group marched across campus on its way to Boston City Hall, the protesters called for the university endowment to be divested from fossil fuels and chanted, “Where is Leahy?”
The Boston Climate Strike emphasized fighting for justice in solidarity with over 2000 such strikes being held around the world. In front of city hall, activists from all around the area gathered to protest the impending climate catastrophe facing the world and the inaction by government officials.
Speakers included a religious leader, student activists under age 20, indigenous leaders, and government officials, including Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.
Common themes of the speeches included the urgency of the situation, with multiple people repeating that there are 11 years left before irreversible damage as a result of carbon emissions occurs. Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu declared that now is the time for “impatient leadership.”
Additionally, activists repeatedly emphasized the need for a just transition. Saya Ameli Hajebi, a student organizer, proclaimed “we are striking for the era of the Green New Deal.”
Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, cosponsor of the Green New Deal, was also in attendance, but did not address the crowd.
Emphasizing the importance of collective action, Gina McCarthy, head of the Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration, said “when Washington falls asleep, that’s when we wake up and rise.”
Jean-Luc Pierite, president of the North American Indian Center of Boston and the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, emboldened the crowd, saying “Don’t stop being angry. Don’t stop demanding what is yours.”
After the events in front of city hall ended, the protest continued, as the activists marched together to continue their demonstration in front of the Massachusetts State House. There, young people and allies continued their calls for climate justice, demanding that Governor Charlie Baker declare a climate emergency, and that the state legislature take action on a number of bills responding to climate change.
After the strike, EcoPledge member Molly Funk, MCAS '22, stated that the "energetic turnout" for the event reflected the growing acceptance of climate activism as a "mainstream goal, not a radical one," and urged the BC administration to follow the example of the student body.