A march in San Francisco Sunday in advance of this week’s election was led by youth activists, many of them voting for the first time this year.
Among them was Tiana Day, who who led a Black Lives Matter protest across the Golden Gate Bridge in June.
Day, 18, said she had never been involved in activism until this summer, when thousands of people across the country rallied against racism and police brutality.
“Seven months ago, I wouldn’t have called myself an activist, but a man named George Floyd died under the knee of Derek Chauvin (former Minneapolis police officer) and I couldn’t sleep anymore,” Day told a crowd of protesters Sunday. “I couldn’t close my eyes without the terrifying image of his neck being pressed into the pavement.”
Inspired, Day has since founded the nonprofit organization Youth Advocates for Change and led numerous protests.
At Sunday’s “March 4 Our Future,” she and other youth organizers rallied to advocate for issues ranging from women’s and LGBTQ rights, to climate change and police accountability.
The crowd gathered at Embarcadero Plaza Sunday, wielding placards with writings like “All Lives Can’t Matter Until Black Ones Do,” “The Climate is Changing, Why Aren’t We?” and “Speak for the Trees” as they began to march towards the Phillip Burton Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse.
Bennie Williams, 19, a youth organizer of the protest and a student at Morehouse College said “it’s clear who does not need to be in the White House. That’s Trump.”
“I’m voting for [Joe] Biden in exchange for justice,” Williams continued, hoping that the presidential candidate would increase police accountability, education equity and funding for historically Black colleges if he was elected.
The impassioned cries of the protesters, most of whom were youth, echoed through the streets as they marched through The City, chanting slogans like “Climate change is not a lie, do not let our planet die,” “no justice, no peace,” and “Black Lives Matter.”
“I fear that one day, I may not have the ability to marry the person I love — a human right that is not up for debate,” Henry Shane, 18, a student at Kehillah Jewish High School and a youth organizer of the protest told the crowd. “Love is love. Same sex marriage [and] LGBTQ rights are not up for debate. Not ever, not now.”
People between the ages of 18 and 25 have the power to change the outcome of the election and their future, Shane said, urging those at the march to go to the polls and vote.
Keith Burgelin, 31, a resident of San Francisco and a teacher at Stratford School, said he has watched the group of young activists form and work over the summer.
“This is the culmination of their movement,” he said “And what a beautiful thing to celebrate.”
Day said that every vote and every voice matters.
“Although I am angry, I am hopeful for a brighter future and that starts with you,” she said. “You are here because you want to see a brighter future. With all the hate in this world, do me a favor and choose love.”