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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 Pinettes 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.

Copyright 2021 WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio. To see more, visit WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio.

Tegan Wendland is a freelance producer with a background in investigative news reporting. She currently produces the biweekly segment, Northshore Focus.