This is a short excerpt from The New Yorker about Alexandria Villaseñor written for the September 20th climate strikes.
On Friday morning, Alexandria Villaseñor, who, at fourteen years old, is one of the youngest organizers of the global climate strike, took the subway from Grand Central to Foley Square, in downtown Manhattan. This would be her forty-first week in a row of climate-striking. Inspired by Greta Thunberg, who had first skipped school to strike outside the Swedish Parliament, in August, 2018, Villaseñor had been demonstrating every Friday outside the United Nations since December 14th. Now she was on the subway with a group of other young activists, who had come to New York to join the strike and participate as delegates in the United Nations Youth Climate Summit, on Saturday. One of her collaborators on the train, Ciara Lonergan, who is seventeen, had interviewed her for a high-school English project on climate change. “The fact that she started this in the United States—it’s been so important,” Lonergan said. “The worldwide attention we have today is thanks to this movement.” Later that afternoon, Villaseñor would be introducing Thunberg, who was scheduled to give a speech at 5 p.m., in Battery Park. “I’m ready,” she told me.
The rally was scheduled to begin at noon. By 10 a.m., the square was hot in the sunshine, and already packed with thousands of cheering students and families. New York City schools had given all of their 1.1 million students an excused absence for the strike (but not the teachers, although I met several of them in the square). A class of sixth graders from Fort Greene was interviewing other young activists, including Avery Tsai, age nine, a staple on the climate-activism scene, who wore a floral crown and a cape covered in buttons. She carried an oversized cardboard cutout of a house in flames that read “Our House Is on Fire.” An eleven-year-old named Nazir Miller-Parker had a clipboard and was writing down a question that he planned to ask people at the march: “What can you do to stop climate change?” Workers all over the world, including a contingent from Amazon, were following the teen-agers’ lead and striking, too. Six thousand company Web sites had shut down and redirected visitors to the global-climate-strike Web site. In the next few hours, tens of thousands more people flooded the square. Globally—there were strikes on every continent, and in a hundred and fifty-six countries, with huge turnouts in cities including Sydney, Berlin, and Munich—more than three million people were out in the streets.
. . . .By Carolyn Kormann, “New York’s Original Teen-Age Climate Striker Welcomes a Global Movement” The New Yorker