On February 21, 2018, Indivisible East Bay joined high schoolers, parents, and public officials from the Bay Area for Political and Proud, an evening of speeches and workshops at Alameda’s Encinal High School. The goal of the night was to bring young women, especially young women of color, together with leaders and organizations that could encourage and inform them as they set out on the path to building America’s more perfect union.
Judging by this event, Alameda’s future leaders are an incredibly organized and serious group of young women. They filled their school’s big gymnasium with decorated guest tables and a huge selection of organizing stations. Indivisible East Bay set up next to Alameda4Impeachment, Women’s March Oakland, The League of Women Voters, and more. The atmosphere was very much one of collaboration and community; Encinal High’s student AV technicians, journalists, and organizers did a wonderful job of managing and documenting a complex event.
A long line of impressive public officials gave speeches throughout the evening. Alameda’s mayor, Trish Herrera Spencer, talked about being Latina in law school, and encouraged everyone present to give themselves to as many opportunities as possible, no matter how remote the chance of success might seem. “When you show up, look around. Someone in that room will like you,” she said, to cheering and applause.
She noted, crucially, that more than one million Californian 17 year-olds will be eligible to vote come November 2018. It’s on us to make sure every one of them is registered and excited to participate.
Hydra Mendoza, Deputy Chief of Staff for Education and Equity in the San Francisco Mayor’s Office, spoke clearly to the students, saying: “We are dependent on your ability to educate yourselves.” Mendoza described the challenges she faced as a young woman of color running for public office in San Francisco, and made a brave attempt to explain redlining and the concept of generational wealth to an audience that may never own property unless their parents buy it for them. Hopefully they, unlike Millennials who will rent apartments into their retirement, force a change in this system before they end up trapped in it.
Pamela Price, currently running for District Attorney of Alameda County, gave a rousing speech that detailed her own experience as a litigant in a Title IX sexual harassment case. Price tied her role in this important case to her long career as a civil rights lawyer, and echoed the same themes as the mayor when she exhorted the audience to “fill out the application, okay? You don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Price ended on a resonant point: Alameda County is the most progressive in the country, and its teenagers have been chosen by virtue of their time here to lead the rest of the country to a progressive future that echoes the values they’ve learned in Alameda. What is familiar to them must become familiar to their counterparts in Alabama and Georgia if we’re to keep pushing the country forward. Listening to the speeches and watching the organizers manage it all, it was difficult not to agree with Price – and it was impossible not to feel a deep belief in the capacity of her bright young audience to change America for the better.
Images courtesy of Photography by Rex.