“Nothing in my entire life has affected me that much — ever. Not only am I a different person, but I was robbed of my innocence.” - David Hogg 'History shows that kids, with their innocence, honesty and moral urgency, can shame adults into discovering their conscience. It worked in Birmingham. During the children’s crusade, young people swarmed in to redirect the arc of history. we shared many of the same basic feelings of adolescence: unbounded idealism, courage unclouded by ‘practical’ concerns, faith and optimism untrampled by the ‘realities’ of the adult world.' - John Lewis "But the Birmingham movement was flagging. In need of a radical shift in strategy, James Bevel, an adviser to King, recommended turning young blacks into foot soldiers for equal rights. King was hesitant, fearing for the children’s safety. He prayed and reflected and finally accepted that putting children in danger could help determine their future. they were laughing and singing and carrying handmade picket signs reading “Segregation is a sin” and “I’ll die to make this land my home. By the end of the day, under Bull Connor’s orders, more than 500 kids were behind bars charged with parading without a permit, some 75 youngsters crammed into cells meant for eight adults. On May 2, 1963, the first day of the Birmingham children’s crusade, some 800 students skipped class, high-schoolers all the way down to first-graders. Sneaking over the fences, they scampered to the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, the march’s staging ground. (Four months later, the church would be dynamited by the Ku Klux Klan, killing four black girls.)" The children’s crusade was national news. The Birmingham movement had been revived. And President John F. Kennedy was now paying attention. It was then that the president and the attorney general began considering a path toward comprehensive civil rights legislation. Until students took to the streets, John Kennedy had failed to act; for two and a half years, he had been slow to recognize the plight of blacks in America. Throughout his brief term, he had been focused on other matters: foreign affairs, the national economy, the space program. But now his eyes had been opened. “Looking back,” King wrote later, “it is clear that the introduction of Birmingham’s children into the campaign was one of the wisest moves we made. It brought a new impact to the crusade, and the impetus that we needed to win the struggle.” Children have changed America before, braving fire hoses and police dogs for civil rights __________________________________ let me give a different example about young folks fighting for their rights: get a red tomato. feel it's heft. consider it's origins. there's a fair chance it was picked in Florida, home to a 600 million dollar tomato industry, and if so, it was picked in Immokalee, in hot southwest Florida, if so, a fair chance it was picked by someone who not that many years ago was a slave. by the hands of migrant workers from Mexico, who were abused physically & sexually, paid by the bucket and not the punishing hours in the field, yet whose meager wages were routinely stolen by their bosses, and who were pistol-whipped and chained in locked containers if they complained. POWERLESSNESS! these workers had NO RECOURSE. NO ADVOCATES. NO FLUENCY IN ENGLISH. they were socially dead to the rest of the United States. in 2001, they organized the 1st ever farmworker boycott of a fast-food company, against Taco Bell, 4 years later TB agreed to raise wages the buyers agreed to contribute some of the pittance they once squeezed from their workers to a common fund for worker health and worker safety and worker education. WalMart joined the effort in 2014. 10 million dollars has been paid into the fund. the pickers of Immokalee fought for a fair chance, and they're still fighting. my fellow millenials, the old generation is a thing of the past, forget them, but WE have a bright future!