How to be a student activist

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” said Martin Luther King Jr. As the nation celebrates MLK day, here are some ways to not stay silent about what matters and practice being a student activist. 

Even though the majority of high schoolers can not yet vote, there are still ways to be heard and have an influence on legislators. If students are seeking change on a national level, they can reach out to a congressperson. On the US House of Representatives’ website, people can enter their zip code to find their local representatives. The website allows easy access to contact information such as mailing address, email and phone number. 

The Calabasas representative is Ted Lieu. When calling legislators, students should prepare their thoughts, write them down and have them visible during the call. Students should begin by introducing themselves. Next, identify the reason for calling and explain its relevance. End the call by urging the recipient to take action and thanking whoever is spoken to for his or her time: “I urge you, Senator/Representative, to take action and vote yes/no on _______.” Although students may not be able to speak to the office holder directly, they can speak with a staff member who will relay the message.

 In addition, students can use the global influence of the internet to inspire change, or to simply educate those around them. Follow accounts that discuss personal passions; not only can students repost photos and videos, but Instagram allows users to attach links to donations and petitions.  

Students are also able to contribute directly by signing petitions and making donations. is one of the most popular sites to do this. Large scale publication grabs the attention of people in power, even if it starts small. There are no qualifications to start a petition, nor is there an age requirement. In Maryland, a highschool student started a petition urging Congress to make animal cruelty a federal felony. The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act was passed, making the petition a sucess at over 80,000 signitures. 

In light of Martin Luther King day, students can take action in their communities and advocate for their beliefs. There are always ways to make a difference, regardless of age.