More than a hundred people came to UNT’s Library Mall for the Denton Climate Strike on Friday, with speeches from UNT’s Student Government President Yolian Ogbu, Denton city council member Deb Armintor and a handful of UNT students.
This rally was “put together to provide a platform for student voices to be heard and facilitate much needed conversations pertaining to the future directly impacting today’s students,” according to their Facebook page.
It began with remarks from Ogbu.
“We are a part of a generation where climate change has been a constant all throughout our lives,” Ogbu said. “I honestly don’t remember never learning the fact that our ice caps are melting, and that millions of species are dying every day. I remember learning about this in elementary school, and that is terrifying.”
Ogbu stressed that the current students, and everyone facing with this crisis, has the opportunity to take charge and make a difference for our future.
“We can take control of our own narrative, from our own lives, and from this strike in particular, I think that it’s important that we make a presence and to stand up to any injustices we see,” Ogbu said.
Groups such as the We Mean Green Fund and the Department of Philosophy and Religion, also participated in the event through tabling.
A donation station for the Bahamas’ relief and a voter’s registration station were also among the tables there.
After Ogbu, several students from the student body such as Michael Fish, Will Seaton, Brooke Hoese, Uel Trejo and Shane Warren, spoke at the rally. Denton city councilwoman, Deb Armintor, also spoke on behalf of providing a “greener” future for Denton.
“I prefer to focus on the things that we’re not doing, that we should be doing,” Armintor said. “Many of the good things that we’re doing, we started doing too late. Denton is not unique in that. This is a nationwide, worldwide problem.”
Armintor spoke on behalf of the toxicity that pollutants, such as fertilizers and other pesticidal chemicals, have on our environment and weaken the underground systems.
There also were people there speaking against climate change.
Kelly Neidert, president of a Young Conservatives’ group, attended the rally in hopes of spreading the message for conserving state parks and natural areas while also conserving the national constitutional values such as freedom of speech and free rights.
“We should be focusing less on making business’ deregulate fossil fuel admissions because that hurts small businesses and individuals more than they’re aware of,” Neidert said. “We’re looking at some naturalization projects with our partners, The Americans of Prosperity, hoping that we can clean up some parks and other small-scale items.”
In the midst of the student speakers, a man began to rally back and preach that the event was “brainwashing” and turning student’s “minds to mush.”
“I think that everybody here has felt some kind of impact from climate change,” History freshman William Seaton said. “Whether it be personal anxiety or loved ones being scared of living on the coast, or whatever it is, I think everybody here can feel that impact and might not be able to want to use their voice to share their concerns.”
Aside from students standing their concerns on climate change, a handful of Denton locals showed up to support both universities, TWU and UNT, and to voice their need for change.
KJ Lowry, a UNT alumni and former president for Tarrant County’s National Organization for Women, came to the event to be surrounded by people who care about change for the environment and to continue the spark that was coursed within.
“I heard a story this morning about the number of birds that had disappeared, I mean billions and billions of birds have disappeared in the last few decades,” Lowry said. “This made me think, how can parents talk about the birds and bees if there are none?”
Supporters from all over Texas also showed up in support of the strike against climate change. Blake Robinson, a graduate from Texas State University, showed up to the nearest strike location closest to him and joined in on the rally.
“I believe that climate crisis is one of the biggest issues that is facing humanity to this day,” Robinson said. “As human beings, we are not separated from our environment, we are all interconnected and the destruction we do to our environment is destruction we do to ourselves.”
Featured Image: UNT students chant and demand for action on climate issues at the Denton Climate Strike on Sept. 20, 2019. Image by Ricardo Vazquez Garcia