I think we all agree that one of the most uplifting moments of the inauguration was Amanda Gorman’s performance. The youngest-ever inaugural poet inspired us with her powerful verse about “making love our legacy,” in our nation “that isn’t broken / but simply unfinished.”
In terms of truth and brilliance, Amanda’s age is irrelevant. What is relevant is her perspective as a young person reaching adulthood in this moment, who had an opportunity to share her unique voice, and collectively move our entire country.
What would happen if more young people had the chance to share their brilliance?
Over a decade ago, I worked with a high schooler named Zak Malamed who had connected personally with our film Race to Nowhere. Together we started a student voice group to organize and empower students to speak out and engage with policy-making at their schools. Zak evolved this group into a nonprofit called Student Voice, which now builds nationwide networks for student organizing. Recently, he has also been instrumental in leading a call for #YouthInGov, a collaboration of youth-led organizations rallying to advance young people’s representation across the federal government.
When we give kids and teens agency early in their critical development, they discover meaning and purpose as they grow. They are better equipped to seek out fulfilling career and volunteer opportunities long-term, which can positively impact the larger world in turn. Let’s empower young people today to make a difference tomorrow. You can sign Zak’s #YouthInGov petition calling on the Biden-Harris administration to bring young people to the table.