By Sean Watkins
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” -Frederick Douglass
On Sunday, September 21st, I took part in a social milestone of our world by walking in the People’s Climate March, and I loved every single minute of it. I marched through the streets of New York with over 400,000 people all in the name of one thing: protecting our planet.
“In order to change everything, we need everyone.”
Everyone, it felt like, was there with me on Sunday. My experience at the march started around noon when I arrived at Central Park West and 86th Street. Unbeknownst to me, this was the very end of our 400,000 group and we would move very little for about an hour and a half until the march, which started down at 59th Street/Columbus Circle, caught up to us. (I later made my own way down the the 40+ blocks of the march at my own pace)
From the second I walked through the police barriers, I felt at home. There were tons of people representing every state, as well as heaps of countries around the world. I saw groups there from Nigeria, Jamaica, Chile, Mexico, and so many more. There were adults, millenials, and children alike; Blacks, whites, Asians, Latinos; queer, straight, gender non-conforming; punks, blue-collars, lawyers, doctors—so many walks of life whom all I felt connected to in a beautiful way! My favourite marcher by far was an elderly man walking with his walker and wearing a “World War II Veteran” hat with one of the many signs the organisers passed out saying “I’m Marching For…” It’s hard to describe the feeling, but when I saw him, my heart smiled.
We live in a world now where climate change has and is undoubtedly hurting the planet we live on.
Though I am not an environmentalist fighting climate change everyday, as a fighter for social justice, I understand the importance of the intersection climate change has on all aspects of life. In some of my fortunate travels around this world, I was lucky enough to find myself living in the Brazilian Amazon for a month in 2012. It was there where I was able to see firsthand the terrible results we humans have made for our planet.
When you live in the most biodiverse habitats in the world, EVERYTHING revolves around the nature surrounding you. From the food to education, even to the daily naps we took during lunchtime, my soul has never felt closer to the core of this earth than when I lived in the Amazon.
So when I was on a 4-hour drive through the region and saw countless acres of trees being cut down, it felt like a stab to this new part of my soul that grew within. In the case of Brazil, not only does this have an effect on the quality of air and wildlife population there, it also threatens the Amazon’s indigenous humans, many whom of which have been killed in the sake of making capital gain.
Saving the Amazon was my reason to march and I felt the spirit of those I met there the entire way.
My story is just one of over 400,000 that brought so many people together. Regardless of our reasoning, we were one for the day. As the days pass on and this event now becomes a part of history, I think it’s important that we all are conscious about the harm that has been done to our planet from climate change and make an effort to make it better.
The thing about climate change is that it can be fixed, but the only way we can get those in power to take action is if we stand in solidarity with each other and demand it.
“The people, united, will never be defeated”—one of the chants we yelled in the march.
We already have environmentalists working hard, but they need our help. If we begin to speak out, whether that means walking in a march, engaging with hashtags on social media, or just talking to our friends and neighbours about it, we can make their work so much easier.
Climate change affects us all on this planet.
I got to bear witness to people from all around the world explaining what about climate change affects them, so believe me when I say it’s a global issue. Step out of your comfort box at home and think about those in a distant corner who really are suffering. What are you going to do about it? Because I don’t want to go back to the Amazon, a place that captivated my heart and soul, in 10 years to see it all gone.
So get up and do something! If not now, then when?! The world is watching!
Sean A. Watkins is a strategic communications specialist based out of New York. A graduate from the James Madison College at Michigan State University, he is impassioned to raise his voice to call out injustices and marginalizations existing throughout the world. Having lived on three different continents, he brings comparative perspectives to conversations to create change. He blogs at fighterforsocialjustice.wordpress.com.