Young people are leading a new era of activism in America. And We the Future, a new initiative launched by nonprofit design lab Amplifier, aims to support and inspire the next generation of activists.
The idea is to put posters depicting young activists into at least 20,000 sixth- to 12th-grade classrooms across the U.S., along with lesson plans for teachers to pair with them. The posters, which were each designed by artists like Shepard Fairey and Kate Deciccio, are intended to paint these young change-makers as both role models and as an inspiration to students, to teach them that everyone has a voice they can lend to causes that matter.
The campaign, which reached its first Kickstarter fundraising goal of $40,000 almost immediately, will have a strong foothold here in Florida. Amplifier is already connected to teachers all over the state, from Jacksonville and Tampa to Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
Amplifier’s mission is to connect artists with grassroots movements in order to help create symbols and images that people can rally around. They’ve previously worked with the Women’s March to help get out the vote as well as creating free art in support of the March For Our Lives. Their work has been funded by both for-profit and nonprofit organizations and all of the posters they’ve produced are can be downloaded for free on their website.
We the Future is pairing each of the activists with a nonprofit that is connected to them and to their cause. The campaign features ten activists from around the country, and their causes range from gun violence prevention to environmental justice to LGBTQ+ advocacy. Among them is 13-year-old Leah, who hails from Miami and champions the rights of immigrants.
“I am proud of where I’m from. I am proud of what I’m doing. It’s really important for me to fight for immigrants’ rights and for my parents’ rights for them to stay here and I’m really proud of doing that,” says Leah, who delivered a speech at the Families Belong Together Rally in Washington earlier this year to around 30,000 protesters. Throughout the speech, the then 12-year-old fought off tears while decrying the treatment of immigrant parents and their children, denouncing it as “evil” and “unfair” and posing painfully poignant questions: “Don’t they have a family too? Why don’t they care about us children? Why do they hurt us like this?”
For Leah’s poster, her likeness was created by artist Rommy Torrico, depicting her wearing a shirt that reads "Nosotros Resistimos" (We Resist). All of the posters bear the campaign’s name as well as a cause that their subject is fighting for. In Leah’s case, hers reads “We the Future Keep Our Families Together." Behind her, there is a more direct message directed at those she is fighting for: “Dear Migrants and Refugees Our Communities Will Fight With You.”
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“I’m really excited to be doing this project with Amplifier,” she says. “I think it’s a really nice way to show teachers and students what other people do for their community and that they can also use their voice for their community.”
Leah is an active member of numerous local and national organizations like WeCount!, the Homestead-based organization dedicated to helping Latin-American Immigrants and farm workers. She’s partnering with Families Belong Together, a coalition made up of almost 250 groups from around the country, all seeking to put an end to family separation. As the youngest activist appearing in Amplifier’s campaign, Leah understands the significance of sharing her story with young people.
“I think it’s for other young people to know that they can raise their voice and that it’s never too early or too late to start,” Leah says. “I started when I was just an 8-year-old holding up signs with my mom. That’s how I started and how I got into activism knowing that it’s really unfair what’s happening with children in detention centers. So I don’t think it’s ever too early for young people to start getting into activism.”
For more information about Amplifier and its We the Future initiative, visit amplifier.org.