Youth Activist Sarah Adams Is Hope for The Future

The face of a young strong African woman on yellow background.

Youth Activist Sarah Adams Is Hope for The Future

I have faith in the future because of students like Sarah Adams.

At just 14-years-old, Sarah has made strides in Rochester with the school district and social justice. 

She was marching this past Summer for Daniel Prude. She has protested teacher cuts for the Rochester City School District. And she’s been elevating her voice and others for a very long time.

“I grew up protesting,” Sarah says. “As soon as I came out of the belly, I was at meetings and always at protests. The first protest I wanted to go to was when Trump got elected.”

In sixth grade, Sarah began to protest creatively through poetry. Sarah’s voice rings true in this art form, hitting points and notes that hit home in so many ways.

“Freeing us, but not freeing us was the intention.

They like to say things have changed with our descendants. 

But that’s just not true.

The new Jim Crow– mass incarceration. 

Mostly minor altercations.

Seeing this is so frustrating. 

Even when you think you free there’s legalize discrimination,

where may you ask?

The conviction check on applications.”

Sarah recited this poem, in part, at an action held earlier this year.  Much of her time as an activist has been spent protesting teacher cuts at Rochester City School District (RCSD) and calling for the district to do right by the students. Sarah says in hindsight, she would have changed her message, but in the end it still made an impact.

“I was just saying don’t cut teachers. What I should have been saying is ‘students over seniority’,” says Sarah. “You know the old heads who sit around making so much money off of us–we wanted those ones out, not the new teachers who look like us.”

Black teachers were the first to go when cuts came around. It just so happened that the district started an initiative to bring in more Black and teachers of color. When it was time to cut due to a crazy budget gap, the district implemented a last in, first out mentality. Therefore, most of the new teachers who actually represented the students were the first to go.

Sarah says through their protesting, they were able to save dozens of teachers, including the man who introduced her to poetry. 

“He could understand everything. He’s the reason I got into poetry,” says Sarah. “He was going to get cut if we didn’t fight. We couldn’t save them all, but we saved 50 teachers.”

Sarah also co-runs the Youth Advocacy Committee, a student led activist group. She wants one of the group to focus points to be addressing homophobia, transphobia, and racism in the district. Sarah believes the next generation needs to lead the charge on these changes.

“We need everything we can get because we have one of the poorest districts in the country. We have to reevaluate programs and youth need to be at the forefront of making those changes.”

It’s a new group, but I’m sure under Sarah’s leadership and the guidance of Free The People ROC, it will flourish and raise the next generation of activists.

“We must fight and overcome this crooked system so that my race doesn’t threaten my literal existence, so that before they see Black, they see human.”

About Brianna Milon

Brianna is local media professional who loves writing, watching Netflix, and playing with her dog, Weenie and her cat, Fancy. She studied Journalism and Broadcasting at SUNY Brockport and was heavily involved in the campus radio station. Brianna also co-hosts a radio show, “Fat, Black, and Femme”, on 100.9 WXIR. You can find out more on Facebook and Blogspot.

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