Out of the Mouths of Babes: The Moral Authority of Youth and the Pursuit of Social justice

Out of the Mouths of Babes: The Moral Authority of Youth and the Pursuit of Social justice

George Cassidy Payne is a domestic violence counselor and Niagara County Community College adjunct professor of philosophy.

In a recent tweet, former President Barack Obama applauded the students of Parkland for making their voices heard. He wrote:

Young people have helped lead all our great movements. How inspiring to see it again in so many smart, fearless students standing up for their right to be safe; marching and organizing to remake the world as it should be. We’ve been waiting for you. And we’ve got your backs.

One reason that youth have been at the forefront of social justice in America is because they are not jaded. They actually believe change can happen and are not afraid to take risks for peace and justice.

The children of Birmingham in 1963 fought for a future where people are not treated unequally due to the color of their skin. They refused to listen to those who said segregation would last forever.


From the Vietnam Veteran’s Walk of Honor in Highland Park [Photo: David Kramer, 2/26/18]

After Kent State in 1970, the nation’s youth demanded an end to a vicious war in Southeast Asia because they believed in a world not dominated by greed and oppression. The students refused to listen to their parents, teachers, politicians, and others who argued that war was inevitable and necessary.

From the Vietnam Veteran’s Walk of Honor in Highland Park [Photo: David Kramer, 2/26/18]

During the Occupy Wall Street movement a generation of young people stood up (and sat down) to force corporations to be accountable to the people; they actually believed in a world where 1% of the population does not control the financial destiny of the 99%.


Robert Kennedy speaking at the University of Rochester on September 29th, 1964. See Two tragedies that spurred gun control debate

And now a new generation of youth have risen in Florida to use their moral authority to help push for commonsense gun policies. These youth actually believe that Congress can — with the right inspiration and pressure — do the right thing.

In the words of Robert Kennedy:

Every generation inherits a world it never made; and, as it does so, it automatically becomes the trustee of that world for those who come after. In due course, each generation makes its own accounting to its children.


Two tragedies that spurred gun control debate

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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