College Campuses- Incubators for Revolutionaries

If you are surprised by the uprising and outreaching of today’s college-age adults, then perhaps you have not been paying attention for quite some time. It is frequently too easy to dismiss the working of the adolescent mind as the workings of youthful mischief driven by boredom. That summation is partly true.
There has not been a time since the Civil Rights era and Vietnam War protests when young adults have faced the challenges that we have seen regarding human rights, particularly as it concerns social justice, climate concerns, and the political freedom of all citizens.
College campuses, and underground centers, have always been the incubators for revolutionaries, visionaries, and the hopeful. Perhaps this seems normal to me because protest, though minor, is a small piece of my collegiate history while an undergraduate student reporter embedded among those who had overtaken a campus administration building in pursuit of equity and access. That was then, and this is now; however, the call to action is the same.
According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, the age 50+ crowd is considerably underrepresented in the rally against social injustice that has consumed various pockets of the U.S. Likewise, approximately 41% of those surveyed who reported they recently attended a protest focused on race were younger than 30. Yet, this age group makes up only 19% of the U.S. adult population. Much like the ancestors, contemporary activists are more racially diverse and younger than the average population.
Youth activism is far reaching. Swede Greta Thunberg was 15 when she embarked on her school strike for climate change. She is not an anomaly. At age 17, Malala Yousafzai was acknowledged with the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for the risks undertaken to advance female education despite a politically and religiously violent subculture. Ryan White was a relatively normal 13-year-old-middle schooler before he was thrust into national advocacy to end ignorance about HIV/AIDs. The late Congressman John Lewis was 21 when he drew the short straw that determined he would lead the voting rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. History marked the rise and death of Martin Luther King, Jr. by the age of 33. And even Joan of Arc was a tender 19 years old when she was sacrificed on a stake.
Age cannot suppress what lies within the spirit when the call for equity, inclusion, and the desire to be heard is blaring. The question is not why young adults are persistent in their beliefs that “Black Lives Matter,” “Love is Love,” “Science is Real,” and “Feminism is for All Women”. The question is whether as adults on the sunset side of life you have forgotten what it means to live in ways that leave the world in better shape for those who for whom the sun is just rising.

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