by Mark Ostapiak– February, 2005
SANTA ROSA, Calif.—History shows that youth often provide the spark for social and political awakening. They have been in the forefront of this country’s
greatest past struggles for civil rights, women’s rights, independent Black and Chicano political parties, and an end to global capitalism.
Many of today’s youth are incensed by Washington-led attacks on civil liberties, women’s rights, jobs, health care and education—while funding for war escalates.
On Jan. 14, more than 50 students from at least six different high schools throughout Sonoma County, in the tradition of young people as leaders in
mobilizations against capitalist-led wars, staged a school walk-out and march in Santa Rosa. They mobilized in the town’s main street against the U.S.-led wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and throughout the world.
Marchers were not intimidated in the face of police, who pushed the rally from the street to the sidewalk, after which the street demonstration continued.
After the march, the main student organizers facilitated a constructive dialogue among the participants about founding a new group that could organize students for grassroots campaigns on and off high-school and college campuses. A planning meeting for this organization has been set for Feb. 12.
Joey Crottogini, a Sonoma County resident and lead student organizer of the walk-out, told Socialist Action that he envisions forming a student-led political action and educational group modeled after one he helped build about four years ago in several high schools throughout Sonoma County. Participating
schools at that time organized a week-long educational conference with a wide-range of workshops, whose themes included HIV-STD prevention, Plan Colombia, antiwar activism, and mobilizations to counter military recruiters in the schools.
Crottogini stressed the need for more youth organizers to raise social and political awareness among students and residents in the greater community. He is optimistic that the coming years will see greater numbers of young people assuming key leadership roles in some of the most important causes for social justice.