I was able to attend a Climate Strike this afternoon where Greta Thunberg was a guest speaker. The Swedish Climate activist took the stage amidst much applause and cheers.
She began her speech with an acknowledgment that the land we were all standing on once belonged to indigenous tribes like the Catawba and the Cherokee.
As always, she spoke eloquently and passionately. I also got to witness the graceful way she handled a heckler. Someone on the other side of the crowd interrupted her speech with words that I was too far away to hear or catch in my recording. However, Thunberg’s response comes across plain as day. So, do the applause and chants of “Greta” from the crowd:
11/8/19: Greta Thunberg gracefully shuts down a heckler.
Another video of the moment is here.
Besides shutting down the heckler, the teen activist talked about hope and how she has “not found much hope in politicians and corporations.” However, she went on to say that it is now the people that are the “biggest source of hope.”
Thunberg traveled to Charlotte in order to join a local teen, Mary Ellis Stevens, who has has been striking outside the Charlotte-Mecklenberg Government Center by herself since February.
— 🌻 Mary Ellis Stevens 🌻 (@_Mary_Ellis) November 7, 2019
In her speech, Stevens told all of us “when I started striking I was convinced I was going to be alone forever, so this is really special. When I became lonely, I imagined the streets filled with strikers — and look at what we have today.” By the time Greta took the stage a little after 1 pm, there were roughly 1,200 people in the crowd.
Stevens explained that she received a DM from Thunberg while she was sitting in Biology class on Wednesday. She was messaging to say that she would be joining the Charlotte strike on Friday. In just 48 hours, Stevens was able to rally the area youth climate groups and put together the event which started at 12 pm today.
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) November 8, 2019
Another of the speakers on the stage today was NC House Representative John Autry, referring to himself as one of the “crusty guys.” He was trying to be a voice of hope from the government that the youth were searching for. He asked all of us adults in attendance to get out there and use our own voices in the form of votes, something most of the youth are not yet able to do.
Autry asked, “How will our grandchildren ever be able to afford the future if we only continue to invest in the past?”
How, indeed. Maybe we should all take a page from Greta’s book—gracefully shutting down the hecklers—as we move right past them and start making the changes the world needs.