Speaking Truth to Youth

These Speaking Truth to Youth videos reflect AWTT's belief that our portrait subjects are not superheroes but real people whose work is driven by moral courage and a passion for truth and justice. In these interviews, we hope to capture them in that spirit - sitting at home, sharing their thoughts in conversation.  They are intentionally unpolished and authentic.  We hope you enjoy a window into the lives of these models of courageous citizenship and realize that you, too, can be an activist - someone with the courage to act for social, economic, and environmental fairness.  It’s your moment!

Watch artist Robert Shetterly's brief introduction to the video series:

Now enjoy browsing the video library below. 

To derive the most benefit from these interviews, we strongly encourage you to read the biography of the portrait subject before you listen to the interview.  Their stories will lay a foundation for understanding their beginnings as activists, what continues to guide them, and the advice they have for young activists and, actually, for all of us.  Find the link to each truth teller's portrait and short biography in bold red text beneath the video image or in the directory list. 

Teachers, please check out this introductory Speaking Truth to Youth lesson (.pdf file). 

Educator and activist Bill Ayers advises us to stop whining, open our eyes, be astonished, do something, rethink, and repeat.

Co-founder of Code Pink Medea Benjamin shares the event that was the catalyst for launching her life as an activist.

Educator Bill Bigelow highlights for youth activists the significance of the journey and the value of community.

Peace educator Betty Burkes urges youth to lead with kindness, practice gratitude, be curious, and value the power of communication as a tool for making change.

Educator and writer Nancy Carlsson-Paige urges us to see the commonalities in all humans in order to build a society based on racial and social justice.

Journalist and essayist Hal Crowther advises young people to find voices they can trust to tell them the truth and to look to leaders who are humble, patient, thoughtful, and inclusive.

Penobscot Nation Ambassador Maulian Dana advises youth to learn from sadness and anger, then move toward their goals from a better place.

Climate justice activist Tim DeChristopher talks about the importance of both compassion and empowerment in his life.

Community activist and organizer Deqa Dhalac shares the Somali principles that guide her in her activism.

Pediatrician and activist for universal health care Dr. Margaret Flowers advises youth to take the long view in their activism and to find the positive in every situation.

Human rights advocate and co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter, Alicia Garza tells young people to keep "a soft heart and tough skin" and not to let barriers and obstacles distract them.

Pediatrician and community activist Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha finds inspiration in young activists who, she says, are already smart and courageous leaders.

Never straying far from the music that helps him rise above the struggles, Reggie Harris tells youth to know the history into which they were born but not let that limit their thinking.

Educator John Hunter and his former student Choetsow Tenzin, now a sophomore at Harvard, encourage us to see each new person with fresh eyes and to live by Hunter’s motto, “Someone has to do it.”

Since Becci Ingram is not alive to share her thoughts, her parents Malcolm and Elizabeth share how Becci became a playwright and how important it is to see children beyond labels.

Community builder and youth development activist Regina Jackson stresses the importance of listening to the youth voice.

Reporter and coach LeAlan Jones discusses the importance of connecting not through technology but through the human story.

Biologist and author, Robin Wall Kimmerer shares the importance of being a voice for ecological justice and the need for all of us to recognize our individual gifts and responsibilities.

Former CIA agent and torture whistleblower John Kirakou advises that we know the difference between right and wrong and to act accordingly.

Nicole Maines tells how her story of being a transgender youth and young adult led Maine legislators to defeat a proposed bill that would harm her.

Maine House Representative Chloe Maxmin tells how she became an activist at a young age and encourages others to step up and become engaged.

Climate activist Bill McKibben reminds youth that social solidarity is key in fighting climate change and that there is a strong connection between patriotism and dissent.

Raised on the Penobscot Indian reservation Sherri Mitchell describes how moments of injustice she witnessed in her youth inspired her to want to create change.

Organizer of domestic workers Ai-jen Poo describes how the many elders and strong women in her life inspire her to work to honor and protect the caregivers in our country.

Environmental activist Florence Reed shares how childhood visits to the Bronx zoo led her to sustainable farming and rain forest protection.

Women’s rights activist Cecile Richards recalls beginning her activist career in 7th grade when she started her school’s recycling program on Earth Day.

South Bronx educator and founder of Green Bronx Machine, Stephen Ritz believes truth is critical and advises young people to stick to their values and not be afraid to fail.

Scientist, writer, and environmental activist Sandra Steingraber speaks boldly about the need to address climate change as she asks youth to find their place in the movement.

Death row lawyer Bryan Stevenson discusses how proximity to vulnerable populations and hope are guides to his life as an activist.

Shrimper and environmentalist Diane Wilson believes we are too well-behaved. Putting her intention and commitment on the line helps her address climate change.

Artist Tilly Woodward talks about why and how art is a voice for activism.

Hip Hop Caucus CEO Rev. Lenox Yearwood tells youth that energy and passion are important, but love is what we need to create the world we want to inhabit.

Artist Lily Yeh describes being "open to deficits" as she used art to build community.

Sports journalist Dave Zirin tells story of how a disturbing scene at a sports event drove him to speak out and encourages young activists to practice self-care.