Youth Saving Democracy
By David Kromelow
Welcome to Youth Saving Democracy, a podcast dedicated to promoting, assisting and empowering youth-led grassroots organizations and the policy agendas and candidates they champion. I’m your host David Kromelow. After the 2016 election, some in the media were suggesting the imminent death of American democracy. But the young people in America had other ideas. Not only did they turn out in unprecedented numbers for the 2018 midterm elections; they have also emerged at the forefront of what is arguably the largest grassroots movement for change since the 1960’s. With gun control, climate change,
#4 Finally Curbing the Epidemic of Gun Violence in America Interview with Logan Rubenstein the co-director of the March For Our Lives Parkland chapter
For the past year, Parkland, Florida has become a community dear to America’s heart. It is a community that represents the very best of America. Diverse, inclusive, and kindhearted. A place where bridges are built as opposed to walls and where everybody looks out for one another regardless of one’s race or creed. It’s these characteristics that made its youth respond to the unspeakable, despicable tragedy that befell Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with admirable strength and courage. It is because of them that the House of Representatives passed sweeping gun safety legislation last week. And now, the GOP-run Senate Judiciary committee will be holding a hearing. We are getting closer and closer to finally curbing the epidemic of gun violence in America, but we still have a ways to go. And one young activist that will be helping lead the fight to get this done is Logan Rubenstein. Logan is currently a freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and is the co-director of the March For Our Lives Parkland chapter. 1. Logan, describe what happened through your eyes on February 14, 2018. What did you do when the news first broke and how did you deal with the pain, horror and heartbreak for the rest of that day? 2. This was easily one of the most preventable tragedies imaginable. Why it took so long for security to declare a Code Red despite knowing EVERYTHING about the perpetrator in advance, I’ll never know. Do you the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas feel any safer now than you did 12.5 months ago? 3. If you don’t feel safer now than you did then, why did the Broward County school board vote to retain Superintendent Robert Runcie this week? 4. As the co-director of the March For Our Lives Parkland chapter and as a student at Stoneman Douglas, you’ve had the chance to learn from some of the inspiring leaders that have become household names. But many of them will be headed off to college next year. What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned from them and how do you plan to carry on their legacy in your community going forward? 5. One of the major points of emphasis March For Our Lives makes so well is the racial disparity in the attention certain types of gun violence receive. The press treats tragedies like Parkland and Columbine like front-page news, but totally ignore places like the south and west side of Chicago where gun violence claims lives every single day. How can we as ordinary citizens give such communities the attention that the media establishment won’t give them? 6. Recently, your community and all of us in America marked the one-year anniversary of that dark day. What were the highlights during that week of remembrance, what made things hard at first, and how were you all able to pull through despite the pain? 7. This week, the House of Representatives will pass HR1, a landmark piece of legislation to make American democracy function better. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley proposed an amendment to HR1 that will lower the voting age in federal elections from 18 to 16. Do you think 16-year olds have earned the right to vote? 8. What are your thoughts on the current field of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates? Who are your favorites and your least favorites and why? 9. Word association game NRA: Nancy Pelosi: Mike Pence: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Mitch McConnell: Barack Obama: Vladimir Putin: Islam: 10. What should ANYBODY be doing to help March For Our Lives right now, whether they be 7 years old or 70 years old?
March 24, 2019
#3 School Shootings, Human Trafficking, and More w/ Rhonda Hart
While the young people in America are leading the fight to end gun violence, they obviously have not been alone. The parents of children lost to gun violence have also been at the forefront. One such parent is Rhonda Hart. Rhonda’s daughter Kimberly was one of the 10 victims of the Santa Fe High School shooting in Santa Fe, Texas last May. Since then, she has been an active member of the gun violence prevention advocacy group Moms Demand Action and has just recently announced she is running for her local school board. Rhonda was incredibly gracious to join us to discuss Kimberly, her activism and how she keeps going despite all the pain, her recent trip to Washington, DC, Texas politics, and why young activists make her extremely hopeful. 1. Rhonda, what made Kimberly so unique and special? 2. After the unfathomable tragedy you endured, how long did it take you to turn all of that grief and heartache into action? How does your activism help with this pain that will never go away? 3. As you know, our country is arguably living through its most polarized era since the Civil War. However, the issue of gun control might not be as polarizing as it once was. Just how great is the potential for this particular issue to be a force in bridging these historic divides? 4. Just a few weeks ago, you were in Washington, DC as the guest of Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher for the State of the Union. You also got to meet some of the other Parents of the Movement (as I like to call it), most notably Fred Guttenberg and Manny Oliver. What was it like meeting them and did meeting them give you an extra jolt of strength and inspiration as this fight to end gun violence enters a new phase? -Now it’s time for our Weekly Community Bulletin Board. In light of the House passing HR8, it is time to vigorously lobby the United States Senate to pass S42, the Senate version of the same bill that will require universal background checks on ALL gun purchases. March For Our Lives is sponsoring a national Letter Writing Campaign to help all of us make our voices heard in favor of this landmark legislation. If you want to help in this campaign, write a handwritten postcard to a specific U.S. Senator telling them why they should support S42 and mail it to the following address: March For Our Lives GW 800 21st Street, NW Suite 505 Washington, DC 20052 All letters must be sent by March 18!!!! If your organization (whether it be a local MFOL chapter, a local Sunrise Movement chapter, etc) wants something to be featured on next week’s Community Bulletin Board, don’t hesitate to contact us on Twitter @dkromelow17 or on Instagram @youthsavingdemocracy 5. What were some of the other major highlights of your recent trip to Washington, DC? 6. One of our major goals here at Youth Saving Democracy is to support young people running for office. Just this past weekend, you spoke at the kickoff event for Marcel McClinton’s campaign for Houston City Council. What makes Marcel such an incredible young man and why should anybody anywhere in America support his campaign? 7. Through your activism, you also got to meet another incredible human being named Beto O’Rourke. What is Beto like as a person and if he decides to run for president, what will he bring to the table that none of the other Democratic candidates can? 8. Who are some other candidates on the 2020 ballot in Texas that people anywhere in America should consider supporting? 9. How hopeful do all these incredible young activists make you? Thank you Rhonda, and that’s it for this week but we plan to be back with another great discussion next week, so stay tuned. For further updates on the development of this podcast, and we’re just getting warmed up, please follow me on Twitter @dkromelow17 and on Instagram @youthsavingdemocracy.
March 8, 2019
#2 Discussing Gun Violence Politics (and more) w/Daphne Frias
Last year, America’s youth marched, mobilized and turned out to the polls in unprecedented numbers. Now, many of them are running for office themselves. Every office in a democracy counts, and the more youth we have running and/or winning elections, the more likely it is American democracy will be saved. One of the amazing young people running for office is Daphne Frias. Daphne is 21 years old and is running for County Committee Representative for Election District 70 in Manhattan. She also is a gun violence prevention activist and above all, an inspiring young woman. Daphne joined us to discuss her campaign, the agenda she plans to implement if elected, her experience in the movement to end gun violence, how she plans to get an historic number young people to vote in 2020, and a lot more! 1. Daphne, you are running for County Committee Representative for Election District 70 in Manhattan. What are the main responsibilities of that office? 2. If elected to this position, what are the top priorities on your agenda and why? 3. Why is it important for anybody, anywhere in America, to support your campaign and the campaigns of all the other fantastic young people running for office? 4. Daphne, you have also been in the trenches in the fight to end gun violence, which has undoubtedly prepared you to seek office. Two people you have grown pretty close to recently are Manny and Patricia Oliver, whose son Joaquin was one of the 17 angels cruelly stolen from us in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS massacre last year. How did your relationship with these two incredible activists come to be and what makes it so special? Our Weekly Community Bulletin Board: In this segment of the program, we will share news from youth-led grassroots organizations all across the country. This week, we take you to Long Island, NY, where March For Our Lives Long Island is running an exciting filmmaking contest. If you are a student filmmaker between the ages of 14 and 22 and are passionate about ending gun violence, then create a 1-minute PSA video on gun violence and submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org by NO LATER than 11:59 PM ET on March 1. The winner gets $100 and will have their video featured on marchforourlives.com. If you have any more questions, email them at email@example.com. If your organization (whether it be a local MFOL chapter, a local Sunrise Movement chapter, etc) wants something to be featured on next week’s Community Bulletin Board, don’t hesitate to contact us on Twitter @dkromelow17 or on Instagram @youthsavingdemocracy 5. Also last month, Daphne, you took a very special trip to Washington, DC. You got to meet Speaker Pelosi, Congressman Joe Kennedy, as well as some of the key young leaders and organizers in this movement to put common sense gun safety laws on the books. What made that trip so “life-changing” as you described it? 6. As a member of March For Our Lives, you played a role in getting the highest youth voter turnout for a midterm election in 25 years. Without such a turnout, there is just no way such an historic Congress takes power. What does the 116th Congress mean to you? 7. David Hogg has said he wants 71% of eligible youth voters to turn out and vote in 2020. And we here at Youth Saving Democracy intend to do everything we can to make sure that goal is achieved. You have also started a non-profit called Box The Ballot to help increase youth turnout. Please tell us more about Box The Ballot and how we can support it 8. One of the things that have impressed me about this entire youth-led movement for social justice is the emphasis on diversity and inclusion. Whether it be March For Our Lives, Team Enough, Sunrise Movement, or any major youth-led grassroots organization, the site of young people from all types of r
February 25, 2019
#1 Debut Episode of Youth Saving Democracy w/Felix Brody - March For Our Lives Boston Chapter
Welcome to Youth Saving Democracy, a podcast dedicated to promoting, assisting and empowering youth-led grassroots organizations and the policy agendas and candidates they champion. I’m your host David Kromelow. After the 2016 election, some in the media were suggesting the imminent death of American democracy. But the young people in America had other ideas. Not only did they turn out in unprecedented numbers for the 2018 midterm elections; they have also emerged at the forefront of what is arguably the largest grassroots movement for change since the 1960’s. With gun control, climate change, social justice, and many other issues on their minds, America’s youth are reinvigorating our democracy and inspiring us all to take action ourselves. And we all have a moral obligation to help them as the movement they’ve built continues. Our first guest on this program is Felix Brody. Felix is a junior in high school, and the lead field organizer and strategist for the March For Our Lives Boston chapter. He also was a co-founder of 50 Miles More Massachusetts, which helped organize a 50-mile march from Worcester to the headquarters of firearms manufacturer Smith and Wesson. Felix has also played a pivotal role in the fight to lower the voting age in Massachusetts from 18 to 16. We discussed these issues and several others with Felix 1. In recent weeks, you and several other Massachusetts youth activists were at the state capitol to lobby Massachusetts legislators to pass the Empower Act, which intends to allow 16 year olds to vote in local and municipal elections. While this is a great step forward, many in America (myself included) are eager to see 16 year olds be allowed to vote in ALL elections. Is this the eventual goal of the Vote16 movement and if so, what’s the plan going forward to achieve it? Will you be lobbying U.S. House Democrats to put similar language about 16 year old voting rights into what’s currently known as HR1 when the Democrats have unified control over Washington? 2. Why should 16 year olds be allowed to vote in any election? 3. As I mentioned in the intro, you, as the lead field organizer for March For Our Lives Boston helped organize a 50-mile march from Worcester to the headquarters of Smith and Wesson, the infamous gun manufacturer. I seriously have never heard of such powerful demonstrations being lead by young people since the lunch counter sit-ins of the Civil Rights Movement. Describe what that experience was like, how many days it took, and whether you achieved any successes in convincing Smith and Wesson to be a voice of reason in the fight for gun control 4. This week, thanks large part to people like you, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, now under Democratic control, will be holding the first hearing on the gun violence epidemic in eight years. Front and center in that hearing will likely be HR8, the Universal Background Checks legislation that you and everybody else at March For Our Lives is fighting so hard to pass. Do you think there is anything currently not in the bill that should be in the bill? What material that isn’t in this bill should be the main part of another piece of gun control legislation? 5. In my home state of Illinois right now, is debating legislation known as the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act (HB0888). This bill is designed to require police to “conduct a search of the purchasers’ social media accounts available to the public to determine if there is any information that would disqualify the person from obtaining or require revocation of a currently valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card." The bill would also require anyone applying for a FOID to turn over a list of every social media account to their local police. When I first read this, I thought about Robert Bowers, the Tree of Life Synagogue killer. If Pennsylvania had such a law on the books, Bowers wouldn’t have been allowed to get a gun. He posted anti-Semitic fil
February 7, 2019