The Sunrise Movement


Ellie Robert, Senior Class Editor

With the state of the world’s climate becoming a more and more pressing issue for young people, a group of students at Jordan decided to take action in August of 2020. “Climate change is an existential threat to humanity, but it stems from a much larger issue. Sunrise recognizes that climate justice must involve racial and economic justice as well,” Annabeth Jones, a senior at Jordan High School and co-founder of the Jordan Sunrise Hub, said. “We are fighting for the well-being of all people, and that is why I helped found a hub at Jordan, to get young people involved in this fight.” Jones founded the Jordan Sunrise club at Jordan High School alongside Sarah Lehrich and Ava Litzinger, both juniors at Jordan.

The Sunrise Movement was founded by the nation’s youth in 2017. Currently, there are around 400 hubs nationally and most have been founded by students. “The Sunrise Movement is a national, [youth-led] organization to stop climate change and make it a top priority across America,” Litzinger said. “We fight to end corrupting fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people.” Lehrich added onto this overview, “Sunrise is guided by ten main principles, from practicing nonviolence in word and deed to standing with other movements for change,” she said. “Sunrise’s ‘moment of the whirlwind’ came in November of 2018, when Sunrisers from across the nation participated in a sit-in at Nancy Pelosi’s office to demand a Green New Deal. Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez joined this event, and afterwards, thousands of new people learned about and joined the Sunrise Movement. Currently, Sunrise continues to target corrupt politicians in the hands of fossil fuel companies to fight for a Green New Deal.”

The Sunrise Jordan Hub is currently made up of 13 Jordan students who are all passionate about the climate and want to fight for it. Sunrise at Jordan has had members participate in marches, rallies, protests, and other forms of advocacy. “Sunrise is still new at Jordan, and we are currently working to make a larger impact on our school community by continuing to recruit members and organizing small-scale, outdoor actions to allow our members to meet each other, while spreading general Sunrise messaging,” Lehrich said. “As Sunrise Jordan, we plug into many local hubs and participate in state events (especially pre-election protests). Currently, we are continuing to grow our numbers and get further involved with the Sunrise Durham hub.”

Lehrich expressed that the Sunrise Movement at Jordan is “taking a post-election break, but the work is far from finished.” Jones said that the Sunrise Movement will continue their advocation beyond the elections by pushing the Biden administration to adopt the Green New Deal and getting involved in the state runoff elections in Georgia. “The Senate runoffs in Georgia are a crystal part of our national strategy, they will decide control of the Senate majority in January,” Jones said. “We are phonebanking to get new voters to register in Georgia and help flip the Senate!” (You can participate in this phone banking with Sunrise starting November 22 to December 7 at this link:​.)

Beyond forms of political activism, the Sunrise Movement at Jordan is also planning to demonstrate the movement’s interests through art. “We have planned a couple of art actions for upcoming events, but nothing concrete. We have options of chalk art, wheat pasting, and a banner drop with messages such as ‘Green New Deal Now’, ‘We’re Wide Awake’, and ‘No Justice, No Sleep’,” Litzinger said. “Holding an art action in the near future is one of our hub’s top priorities.” The club says that Sunrise is much more than a political advocacy group and welcomes anyone interested. “There is room for people of all interests and backgrounds in Sunrise. Sunrise is a place for artists, scientists, leaders, digital communications enthusiasts, and so much more,” Jones said. “If there is anything you are passionate about, there is a place for that in our movement.”

Jones said that the rundown of an average Sunrise meeting can fluctuate as the Sunrise Hub at Jordan is always planning and learning about new things, but Lehrich said it generally follows the same basic outline. “Sunrise meetings at Jordan always begin with an introduction and icebreaker,” Lehrich said. “Because new members often come to meetings, we like to reintroduce everybody to each other, and we provide a fun icebreaker question to get to know members and spark fun conversation. After this, we go over any updates occurring in the national Sunrise channel, or our local and state hubs. Through this, members are [updated] on past actions and new programs and opportunities that Sunrise is launching. After this, the structure of the meetings usually [varies].”

The club urges young people to get involved with advocating for their climate as this is a pressing issue that cannot wait. “We only have ten more years until the damage from climate change will be irreversible. Our generation will soon make up the largest voting block along with millennials,” Jones said. “We have the power to make a permanent change in politics, and it is our responsibility to make sure that change is a positive and just one.”

If you want to join the Sunrise Movement at Jordan and find out information about future meetings, you can check out their Instagram (@sunrisejordan), email the group at the official club account (​[email protected]​), or join the Remind by texting @9fb83f to 810-10. The club leaders said that anyone is welcome to come to upcoming meetings and no prior experience is required.

*Any point of view expressed in this article does not necessarily represent the views of the Falcon Post, Jordan High School, or Durham Public Schools. The Falcon Post exists to highlight the best voices of Jordan students from all walks of life, and no one article can represent our entire community.