On Friday, Sept. 15, more than 40 students, faculty and residents of Claremont gathered on Walker Beach for a climate rally in coordination with protests planned around 54 countries.
As a part of the September 15 Day Against Climate rally led by the Fridays for Future campaign, rally organizers and attendees spoke about visible weather extremes from recent months and the need for real action.
“There’s a bigger one in [Los Angeles], there’s one in New York and there’s one in Berkeley. Every drop counts,” rally organizer Ash Shaah HM ’24 told TSL.
Inspired by a similar event held last year, 5C student organizers from different clubs and groups around campus led a forum-based rally to bring the Claremont community together in its efforts to address the climate crisis.
“We had two meetings about it and canvassed at the 5C club fair. This has been in the works for around 2 weeks,” Sidney Tchanyoum HM ’25, rally organizer and emcee of the event, told TSL.
Representatives from Claremont Students Workers Alliance (CSWA) and 5C Prison Abolition Collective took turns taking the microphone to speak out on climate change. Rally organizers also invited residents from Pilgrim Place, a retirement community in Claremont, to join the conversation.
Students from different campus organizations spoke about the importance of viewing climate change from an interdisciplinary perspective. Blessing Roland-Magaji SC ’24, an organizer for the 5C Prison Abolition Collective, spoke out about the intersection between climate change and the prison industrial complex.
“A lot of times, we don’t think about how people who are incarcerated are on the front lines of the environmental justice movement,” Roland-Magaji said. “There’s a lack of evacuations during disasters in prisons. There’s increasing instances of incarcerated people being left behind during evacuations, like during Hurricane Harvey in Texas.”
Some speakers at the event pointed to mass production, overconsumption and capitalism, saying they were at the core root of the climate crisis. Other attendees connected the climate crisis to labor justice, Indigenous rights and justice for oppressed people around the world.
“I am here today because I feel like I’m powerless,” Callie Dawson HM ’26 told the crowd. “I know that we are currently losing the fight against the will of a few. The will of the people who have way too much power and who want to keep that power.”
Dawson also shared her experience with climate anxiety and growing frustration with lack of action towards worsening climate change.
Following Dawson’s comments, Carol Billings, a resident at Pilgrim Place, took Dawson’s hands and affirmed that she was doing enough for the climate movement and her own community. Other Pilgrim Place residents thanked Dawson and Shaah for their cross-generational work with Pilgrim Place residents in sustainability efforts such as recycling, compost and water conservation.
Residents from Pilgrim Place spoke about their involvement in climate lobbying, starting local green initiatives and working with students from the Claremont Colleges to address the climate crisis. Billings also spoke about the political action taking place at Pilgrim Place.
“I’m so glad you’re doing this because it’s been on my heart ever since I was a kid. I’ve been watching the planet change for a very long time,” Billings told the crowd.
Jordan James PO ’25 wrapped up the event by speaking about the importance of having hope for the future. James described his own experience gaining inspiration from community and international action for justice.
“I think we are going to win,” James said. “If somehow this doesn’t work, at least we shared our last moments in community with each other. At least we tried our very best, we went out dancing and smiling and not sitting around and waiting for someone to do something.”