Seventh- and Eighth-Graders Join the Post-Election Protest Movement
On Tuesday, November 15, a group of Manhattan Country School seventh- and eighth-graders joined the hundreds of New York City high school students participating in the Love Trumps Hate Walkout. Our students had the permission of their parents and were accompanied by several MCS teachers.
The day started with a class discussion about choice, with a focus on the idea that choosing to walkout and choosing to stay were both good choices. There was also discussion about the importance of choosing for oneself and respecting the decisions of others. The students then spend some time talking with Angela Johnson Meadows, MCS’ communication director about how to talk to the media when participating in activism. There was then some small-group time, where students who were participating in the walkout practiced what they might say if interviewed. The students who were staying at school planned an activism project for the morning.
The group participating in the walkout made their exit around 10:30 a.m. They braved the pouring rain, walking through Central Park and down Fifth Avenue to Trump Tower. Unable to approach the front of the building because police cordoned it off, the group went around to the other side of the block, where a crowd of students had gathered. At that point, the organizers decided to march, and there was a surge as the crowd started moving quickly south. Some groups marched for a little while and then stopped to regroup, while others (including the students from MCS) continued to Washington Square Park, chanting loudly along the way. The group spotted MCS alumni from LREI, Beacon, UNIS and Avenues.
There was a brief rally at Washington Square Park, where the organizers talked about the importance of young people’s voices, as well as how to get involved with the issues they were fighting for, including supporting immigrants, stopping Islamophobia, protecting women’s right to choose, and race/class/sexual orientation/gender equity. As the crowd dispersed, our students headed back to MCS for a late lunch and hot apple cider.
The following are some of the students’ reflections from the day:
“I thought marching was really cool. It was my first time protesting. It felt really empowering. It was really cool taking to students from other schools. They were really impressed that we were from middle school and doing this, and we were younger than most of those people there. It was cool because we were all fighting for the same thing. Even though we didn’t know each other we kind of had that connection.”
“It was really cool to be a part of something so big and powerful. It was cool seeing people take a break form their jobs and come to the windows. It was very cool to have that kind of support, not just from youth, but also from adults.”
“It was very fun and very exciting to be with other like-minded individuals and young people who wanted to make a difference in the country. I really felt empowered in those moments.”
In the week before the march, the seventh- and eighth-graders spent time reflecting on their feelings about the presidential election results. The following excerpts illustrate why the students felt so strongly about walking out on Tuesday:
“I’m feeling a little confused about the election. I’m also sad, angry and disappointed…. A lot of people have said to me, ‘Yeah, it’s bad, but you can’t do anything about it so stop complaining.’ My reaction to that is this: No, we can’t really do anything about the fact that Donald Trump will be our president on January 20, 2017. But what we can do is protest against his beliefs and different laws he is trying to pass.”
“I’m am feeling afraid for the people I care about. I am worried and scared for family, friends, even myself…. I’m surprised that there would be so many people who agree with Trump. There are people who don’t care about what Trump will do to undocumented immigrants, women, people of color and trans people.”
“I’m feeling enraged and incredibly disappointed about the results of the election. How could this have happened?! This man…devalues all of the core beliefs that founded this country, mainly being freedom, justice and equality for all, and completely disregards our constitution.”
MCS will continue to talk about the election and provide space for its students to voice their opinions and grow as activists.