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From The Mouths Of Teens: Gen Z On Life In A Pandemic And The New Civil Rights Movement

Ben Depp
National Geographic Society
Chris Taylor at his home in LaPlace, Louisiana. May 19, 2020.

By now we’ve heard time and time again how the moment we’re all living through is historic, anxious and unprecedented. A global pandemic has killed hundreds of thousands, wrecked the global economy, and created record unemployment. Anti-racism protests have mobilized millions of people around the world calling for major reforms to policing and public policy. It’s changed the way many of us live, work and think.

For young people, it’s changed more than just the high school experience, though that’s no small change. It’s changed the way they think about their futures, and the kind of world they’ll inherit.

For the last two months, we’ve been checking in with a few high school students across the New Orleans area. They’re all journalists with the New Orleans Junior Journalism Program, a non-profit organization that prepares high school students for careers in media.

We got in touch twice: first, during the middle of Louisiana’s strict stay-at-home order, meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus, as they navigated remote classwork and the loss of structured time with friends. We reached out again after continued protests of police brutality, sparked by the killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, shook the world and demanded change from institutions and people in power.

In audio diaries and in emails, they talked about missing out on milestones, new responsibilities at home, when and how change will come, and more.

Read their stories on Crescent To Capitol.

As Coastal Reporter, Travis Lux covers flood protection, coastal restoration, infrastructure, the energy and seafood industries, and the environment. In this role he's reported on everything from pipeline protests in the Atchafalaya swamp, to how shrimpers cope with low prices. He had a big hand in producing the series, New Orleans: Ready Or Not?, which examined how prepared New Orleans is for a future with more extreme weather. In 2017, Travis co-produced two episodes of TriPod: New Orleans at 300 examining New Orleans' historic efforts at flood protection. One episode, NOLA vs Nature: The Other Biggest Flood in New Orleans History, was recognized with awards from the Public Radio News Directors and the New Orleans Press Club. His stories often find a wider audience on national programs, too, like NPR's Morning Edition, WBUR's Here and Now, and WHYY's The Pulse.

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