Climate strike rally encourages 5Cs to ‘Speak Out’

Leaders of the Climate Rally speak to their audience through a microphone.
Members of Speak Out Now and rally attendees share personal experiences facing the climate crisis. (Florence Pun • The Student Life)

In solidarity with over 500 Climate Strikes happening worldwide, dozens of students from across the Claremont Colleges gathered last Friday at Pomona College’s Walker Beach to participate in a climate strike rally and share their personal experiences with climate change. 

Bradley Gonmiah HM ’23, a member of the national group Speak Out Now, organized the rally with the help of students from the other 5Cs. Speak Out Now is a “revolutionary socialist organization” with members in the Bay Area, New Jersey and other cities across the United States, according to their website.

Activist Greta Thunberg’s Fridays For Future campaign inspired Gonmiah to host the rally. The organization called for a Global Climate Strike on Sept. 23 to “demand policymakers and world leaders to prioritize #PeopleNotProfit,” according to their website. 

The goal of the rally was to show the attendees that they were not alone in fighting climate change, according to Gonmiah.

“I think a lot of times, people can get kind of bogged down and feel as if it’s a personal problem, even though this is a really global issue,” Gonmiah told TSL. 

The rally was held in a “speak-out” format that Gonmiah learned about after reading the book “Without Apology: The Abortion Struggle Now” by Jenny Brown. The book presents the history of the fight for abortion rights in the United States, discussing how abortion activists hosted “speak-outs” where people gathered to share their personal experiences with abortion. 

“Even though there were a lot of women that were facing the issue, they didn’t talk about it,” Gonmiah said. “So speak-outs really served as a mode to turn the personal into the social. And then when it’s social, it can be political, and when it’s political, that means you can do something about it.” 

Angel Daniel-Morales PO ’23, who emceed the event, enjoyed the format of the rally. 

“It felt good hearing people speak. It was nice encouraging people who are a little more shy to talk,” Daniel-Morales said. “We’re all organizers, even those who think they’re not. It’s important to get everyone’s voices.” 

“We’re all organizers, even those who think they’re not,” Daniel-Morales said. “It’s important to get everyone’s voices.”

At the rally, people shared personal experiences with climate change, as well as hopes for the future. 

Jocelyn Ruelas CM ’23 spoke after some encouragement by Daniel-Morales. 

“Environmental racism is real, guys! I’ve lived by the plants, by the sewage, and it affects us!” Ruelas said. “I just want to be, before I leave this Earth, someone who uses my voice to make a change.”

Cameron Quijada SC ’25 described the effect of wildfires in her hometown of Temecula, California. 

“I’ve grown up around forest fires, but they usually only happen around once every four [or five] years,” Quijada said. “And then three weeks ago my mom sent me a picture, and it was a fire about three miles away from our house, and they were packing up our house getting ready to evacuate.” 

Daniel-Morales spoke about seeing overgrowth and trash in the woods during his walks in rural Pennsylvania.

“I think about the Indigenous people who used to inhabit that land, who knew how to take care of that land, and how we’re living in an apocalypse where those people were killed,” Daniel-Morales said. “I think sometimes in climate crisis discussions, we forget to mention the people who know how to care for the land.”  

Matiaslan Ceccarelli PZ ’23 shared the song “All That We Perceive” by Thievery Corporation and encouraged attendees to close their eyes and sway to the music. 

“We see in color. We see in magic,” Ceccarelli said. “So why are we here? … We’re here because we care about each other [and] our mountains [and] our rivers.”

After opening the floor for people to speak to the crowd, organizers passed the microphone to each student to introduce themselves and their hometown and discuss the impact of climate change there. 

“We’re here right now in Claremont, but we’re connected to so many other places, right?” Gonmiah said. 

“We’re here right now in Claremont, but we’re connected to so many other places, right?” Gonmiah said.

Gonmiah wrapped up the gathering by promoting future Speak Out Now events, including a Q&A on Sunday with Jenny Brown, the author of “Without Apology. 

Tsion Mamo SC ’23 enjoyed hearing about the different yet connected issues affecting each person’s hometown. 

“We’re all from different places, so something that’s relevant to you I won’t know about, not because I don’t care — but you can tell me, you can let me know about it,” Mamo said. “You don’t have to learn from the school. You can educate each other.” 

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