WWNO skyline header graphic
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Local Newscast
Hear the latest from the WWNO/WRKF Newsroom.

Youth Activists Begin 400-Mile Walk From New Orleans To Houston For A Green New Deal

Youth organizers with Sunrise New Orleans launched a 400-mile march outside the Superdome Monday afternoon.
Tegan Wendland
Youth organizers with Sunrise New Orleans launched a 400-mile march outside the Superdome Monday afternoon.

Youth activists are marching from New Orleans to Houston this week to demand a Green New Deal.

The group danced as The Young Pinstripes brass band played outside the Superdome in the rain Monday, holding signs that said “a better world is possible” and waving at beeping cars.

Members of the local chapter of the Sunrise Movement, a national youth group, said the people of the Gulf South are disportionately impacted by the threats of climate change — like flooding, hurricanes and extreme heat — and that Black and brown communities bear the brunt of the suffering.

They commended President Joe Biden’s climate plan and his recent trip to Louisiana, but said they want to see that plan do more to guarantee well-paying jobs and support people in frontline communities.

Organizer and high school senior 17-year-old Chanté Davis described her family as “climate change refugees.” They moved to Houston following Hurricane Katrina.

“With this 400-mile march from NOLA to Houston, we will show Biden what it takes to rebuild the communities in the Gulf South that have been systemically tarnished by the wealthy at the top,” she said.

Organizers said the march would make stops in Gulf Coast communities impacted by climate change, the petrochemical industry and fossil fuel companies.

A similar march is also taking place in California.

“Young people like me are ready to roll up our sleeves and do the work to make sure we are prepared and protected from natural disasters and future recessions,” said Davis, who said Biden needs to create a robust Civilian Climate Corps.

Such a corps would employ millions of people to conserve and restore public lands, increase reforestation, increase carbon sequestration, and address the changing climate. The plan is part of Biden’s American Jobs Plan, a more than $2 trillion sweeping set of proposals that U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi hopes to bring to a vote by July 4, possibly as two bills.

Senator Edward Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently reintroduced their Green New Deal to Congress. The proposal calls for the U.S. to transition to 100 percent clean and renewable energy, guarantee living-wage jobs, and commit to a just transition away from fossil fuels within the next decade.

Sunrise organizers said the plan is essential.

“We need to take a long, systematic look at what’s happening in the Gulf South,” said marcher and Sunrise Movement organizer Josh Benitez.

The activists headed down Poydras, singing and dancing their way towards the Mississippi River, where they planned to catch a ferry and continue their journey to Houston.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and local listeners.

Tegan has reported on the coast for WWNO since 2015. In this role she has covered a wide range of issues and subjects related to coastal land loss, coastal restoration, and the culture and economy of Louisiana’s coastal zone, with a focus on solutions and the human dimensions of climate change. Her reporting has been aired nationally on Planet Money, Reveal, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Marketplace, BBC, CBC and other outlets. She’s a recipient of the Pulitzer Connected Coastlines grant, CUNY Resilience Fellowship, Metcalf Fellowship, and countless national and regional awards.

👋 Looks like you could use more news. Sign up for our newsletters.

* indicates required
New Orleans Public Radio News
New Orleans Public Radio Info