Students turn out for Global Climate Strike

By Melissa  Palumbo
Delta Digital News Service

Memphis, Tenn. – Millions of people from over 150 countries took to the streets Sept. 20 to demand action for climate change.

Protests and strikes led by young activists and students around the world will run through until Sept. 27 in a movement known as Global Climate Strike. There were local protests in Memphis and West Plains, Missouri, and a strike is scheduled at the Arkansas State University campus in Jonesboro Friday.

This new wave of environmental awareness began with 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, who walked out of her Friday classes each week to bring awareness to crises affecting the planet. 

“We will do everything in our power to stop this crisis,” the Swedish activist said Sept. 20 at City Hall in New York City.

One Memphis local brought the global climate strike closer to the Delta. Jojo Sigala, president of the Progressive Student Alliance University of Memphis chapter, led an afternoon protest in front of City Hall in Memphis. 

“Our kids will learn about the Great Barrier Reef like we learned about the dinosaurs,” she said during her speech.

While the global climate movement this week is led by the younger generations, those who have been protesting climate change for decades made appearances, as well as organizations that stand on behalf of the earth. 

For over 65 years, The Nature Conservancy has been working to combat the climate crisis in all 50 states and 72 different countries. 

Two representatives for The Nature Conservancy attended the Memphis Strike, where they were fundraising and helping to raise awareness of issues impacting the environment. 

“We focus on water shortages and pollution, and we replant trees for a more sustainable tomorrow,” Nathan Murray, a Memphis representative, said. “We’re here for the cause.”

The estimated 4 million participants from around the world this week will make this the largest climate protest in history. 

Citizens are demanding people in power to take action, as they chanted in the streets “No more coal, no more oil, keep your carbon in the soil,” with signs that read “Don’t defund the EPA.”

Jillian Johnson, an Interdisciplinary Studies student at Memphis University and environmental activist, participated in the protest at Memphis. 

“I’m here because the wrong Amazon is burning and the wrong ice is dissolving, so I think change needs to happen. The only way it’s going to happen is for us to do something about it, because, obviously, the people in power haven’t done anything and don’t want to do anything.”