The energy in the air on Sunday, September 17th, was palpable. That weekend, I joined the March to End Fossil Fuels.
North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light was one of the sponsors that empowered over 55 Duke University students to attend this historic event. After driving up with the students, we were met with over 75,000 people who marched alongside us down the streets of New York City.
As a young climate activist working at the intersections of faith, energy, and environmental justice, I knew I needed to contribute where I could: I volunteered as marshal, guiding many more than the expected 4,000 people inside the youth section of the march. I acted as a concerned citizen, seeking a better future for frontline communities, younger generations, and people of faith and conscience. I marched to end Mountain Valley Pipeline Southgate, the Willow Project, and the climate crisis that’s perpetuating Canadian wildfires, filling the air from where we stood with toxic fumes. I marched to have President Biden listen to the people he has sworn to serve… We marched to end the era of fossil fuels.
Our demands were simple:
- President Biden should declare a climate emergency.
- Stop all federal approvals for new fossil fuel projects.
- We must phase out production of fossil fuels on federal public lands.
- We need to create a just transition with a clean energy future.
The sheer magnitude of the climate crisis sends shockwaves through our natural systems.
We have fought the sinking reality of our situation, like a dying man in quicksand, as we increasingly begin to feel its effects in our communities each passing day. This is why we march. I kindly urge President Biden to take the actions needed to properly prepare for the climate emergency. It’s time for the United States to take more responsibility. We can no longer sit in silence and shroud ourselves in ignorance, as hurricanes and heatwaves devastate our nation.
On Sunday, it is likely over a million people witnessed or participated in this demonstration. This will serve as the catalyst for the change we so desperately need. Moreover, it didn’t end with just the demonstration. When the march was over, a congregation of people had gathered from all over the country. We were greeted with some of the most powerful voices in our lifetimes: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, United Nations representative Vanessa Nakate, and North Carolina’s very own Amber and Danger with Seven Directions of Service. Each speaker touched on the urgency of now and the insanity of the situation we have put ourselves in. The climate crisis is not something we can ignore. Frontline communities know that, young people know that, and as we marched on one of the high holy days of the year, Rosh Hashanah, so too do people of faith and conscience.
The urgency to end fossil fuels is felt everywhere, and this weekend, tens of thousands of people were there to prove it.