Student Activism

New Orleans students called for action ahead of UN climate talks in New York.
Jess Clark / WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio

Youth all over the world walked out of school Friday to call for action on climate change, ahead of the United Nations climate talks in New York next week. Students in New Orleans were among those participating in the "Youth Climate Strike."

Berr Voss-Potts, 13, tested his school's drinking water for lead, and found evidence of possibly dangerous levels of the heavy metal.
Jess Clark / WWNO

Young people are the most at risk for lead contamination; lead can cause lifelong developmental problems for kids who are exposed to it. And there are concerns about the possibility of lead in New Orleans’ drinking water, including in the city’s schools. After years of delay by the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) to install water filters, one seventh-grader is taking matters into his own hands.

 

Sixteen-year-old Akelah Sherman (center) and her fellow dancers warm up before rehearsing for their performance.
Jess Clark / WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio

For many, the teenage years are a time when you start to realize the world isn’t fair, and life can be tough. Facing issues like income inequality, racism, and violence, can be overwhelming. One unique program in New Orleans is helping students engage with tough social issues through dance.

The Orleans Parish School Board held its first meeting as head of the new unified school district Thursday night. Nearly all public schools in the parish are under its control for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. But while the district is unified, public opinion is not. 

This week on The Reading Life: Wayne Wiegand, co-author with Shirley Wiegand, of “The Desegregation of Public Libraries in the Jim Crow South: Civil Rights and Local Activism.” We’ll also hear from novelist Silas House, whose new book is “Southernmost.”

U.S. Marshalls escort Ruby Bridges to integrate William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans in 1960.
United States Government

When Americans are taught the story of school desegregation, they learn about the 1954 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. The Board of Education. But much of the work of desegregation happened outside the courtroom. Black children, some as young as six, put their bodies on the line every time they entered a white school, and nearly all of them were girls.

Fifteen-year-old Zianca Bailey wants to change gun laws to reduce gun deaths. She helped organize the March for Our Lives to end gun violence.
Jess Clark / WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio

Pastor Lisa Fitzpatrick spends every weeknight at an old Catholic school building in Central City. Tonight she’s sliding slices of pizza onto paper plates for about a dozen hungry teenagers.

Ben Franklin High School Junior Jamia Brown shows her classmates how they can contact their elected officials to call for stricter gun laws. Ben Franklin Students were among thousands nationwide who walked out of class Wednesday to protest gun violence.
Jess Clark / WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio

Students packed the courtyard at Benjamin Franklin High School Wednesday morning — just two days after the school had to cancel classes due to its own gun threat. They were among hundreds of students in New Orleans and thousands nationwide who left their classrooms Wednesday to take part in a national school walkout to protest gun violence after the latest school shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Fla.