The St. Stephen’s Youth Programs teen organizers and CITs joined hundreds of teens from across the state to demand that Massachusetts lawmakers pass a budget that invests in its young people of color instead of incarcerating them. The day began with a rally at Old South Church, featuring youth performances and education about the connections between youth jobs and systems that reinforce poverty and racism.
District 7 City Councilor Tito Jackson spoke to an enthusiastic crowd, saying “If there is enough money in the budget for police overtime, there is plenty of money for teen jobs!” which was met with hearty applause.
We took to the streets on the balmy 70-degree day, and marched to City Hall and then the State House, chanting and holding signs demanding justice for young people. We wanted to make it clear that just because youth can’t vote does not mean they should have no say in a budget process and government that shapes and controls every aspect of their lives.
The teens met with Massachusetts State Representative Byron Rushing, whose district includes the South End. They asked him to co-sponsor an amendment to increase the budget to maintain the same number of jobs that were funded last year, if the House budget comes in under the requisite $14 million. He promised to support parity funding.
Any and all calls to state representatives to support full funding for youth employment will help create a budget that works for all people in our state. Check out wheredoivotema.com to find out who your elected officials are and how to contact them.
By Sarah O'Connor, Lead Organizer for Lenox Community