This is the speech that I gave at the closing rally of Harvard Heat Week. I improvised a bit, so this may not match up exactly with what I said.
I’ve been working on this campaign for three years, since the very beginning. Harvard has been a hard place to be. It’s been hard to be a student in this culture, to face this administration. At times, it’s drained my soul. Divest Harvard has made my time here worth it.
Still cynicism has dominated by thinking at times. A few weeks ago, I wrote an article called “Harvard is the Climate Crisis.” I laid out three principles that explain how Harvard reflects the same behaviors that perpetuate climate change. Here they are:
1) Refuse to question your fierce commitment to the status quo
2) Reject systemic thinking in order to trivialize the challenge of change.
3) Suppress dialogue to maintain control.
I think that I have to change my tone. Because when I came here, I wasn’t a participant in civil disobedience. I didn’t understand climate justice. I didn’t have a community. I didn’t realize the almighty, surreptitious, and coercive power of the fossil fuel industry.
But now I do.
So thank you, Harvard, for your commitment to the status quo because that it what enabled me to understand the power of the fossil fuel industry.
Thank you, Harvard, for your refusal to engage with students because that it was taught me the power of a community, social solidarity, and the potential of a social movement.
Thank you, Harvard, for being unjust because that is what taught me how to fight for justice.
And most importantly, thank you, Harvard, for helping me realize what I am willing to do to protect what I love.
Next time I thank Harvard, it will be because they divested from fossil fuels. It will because our university chose to stand on the right of history with its student, faculty, and alumni. It will show that Harvard can grow just as I have grown and Divest Harvard has grown.
This is our moment in history. This is the moment when we fight for everything that we love. We made it. We are seizing it. Join us, Harvard.