Tag Archives: Youth Activists

Student Activists Reflect on Long Overdue Rainier Beach High School Rebuild

by Ari Robin McKenna

For decades, the Rainier Beach community watched as other better-resourced high schools got major building renovations, waiting for their turn. Yet as various Seattle Public Schools’ (SPS) building levies passed them by, many members of the student population at Rainier Beach High School (RBHS) — which is currently 97% students of color — began to speak out.

From within a building built in 1961, students have been mounting pressure on the district for more than a decade. Finally, in 2019, the school board approved a replacement building as part of the Building Excellence (BEX) V Capital Levy. With RBHS set for a rebuild beginning next summer, the Emerald spoke to four students who were active in different waves of the push to make that happen.

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Don’t Exploit Youth in Politics, #CompensateYouth on Campaigns

by Andrew Hong and Nura Ahmed

In July 2020, during Kirsten Harris-Talley’s 2020 State House Campaign in the 37th Legislative District, we found an opportunity to create space for youth to engage in campaign work that was safe, comfortable, empowering, and educational. 

Andrew proposed, founded, and led the campaign youth team “Youth for KHT” that served as an anchor for youth campaign organizing on Harris-Talley’s campaign and for progressive youth in the greater Seattle region. Within days the youth team attracted dozens of young people, creating a safe space for youth on the campaign where they helped lead the way on policy development, coalition-building, small business outreach, field organizing, social media, campaign art, and several other youth-led projects. We even paid 10 youth members a $15/hr wage for their organizing.

Nura worked to build an East African youth coalition to get the East African community to come out to vote. Everyone in the coalition were youth between the ages of 15 and 18 years old. They spearheaded the efforts in raising awareness of how the East African community has been massively disenfranchised and not centered, especially in policy decisions. 

Before this campaign, however, both of us had experiences as youth in political campaigns that felt negative and exploitative. 

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