Teen Video Contest Highlights Activist Leaders

Community Involvement for Social Change via Video

Writer Ayesha Siddiqi is quoted as giving this piece of advice: “Be the person you needed when you were younger.” Working to inspire younger generations can ensure that your vision grows, expands, and lives on beyond you. Many young people do have peers as well as older adults in their lives who inspire them to do important deeds such as organize within their communities, fight injustice, and educate others. Identifying leaders can help young people to discover qualities they would like to cultivate for themselves.

Making Democracy Work in My Community is a video contest for Massachusetts teens. The contest asks young people to create a two-minute video about a person who is “making democracy work.” This challenges teens to think about leaders who foster dialogues, organize action, and encourage civic participation from other community members. The contest will amplify young voices as teens have the chance to articulate what they admire about their chosen community leaders. Finally, the contest will have the broader impact of shining a spotlight on politically active people in our neighborhoods, thus encouraging everyone to get more involved in the democratic process. 

While it is important to engage with national political issues and vote in national elections, getting involved on a smaller, community level can be highly rewarding. In an increasingly globalized and connected world, we must not forget the power of small-scale, grassroots, community organizing.

The Montgomery bus boycott is a fantastic example of how marginalized people can band together within their communities to have a lasting political impact. Many people know that the boycott began in 1955 with Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus. People do not necessarily know that prior to this act of civil disobedience, Parks was already highly involved in her community and her church. Her social connectivity is part of what drove people to rally around her and make the personal sacrifice of walking extreme distances rather than riding the bus. (How Change Happens: The Real Story of Mrs. Rosa Parks & The Montgomery Bus Boycott). One of the lessons to be learned from this piece of history is that each of us has a role to play in social movements, and that communities can and will come to the aid of individuals who are held dear.

The contest will run through March 31, 2017. Visit the Making Democracy Work in My Community website for full details.

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