Students from several schools in London walked out to join protests against Donald Trump on 13 July, led by Socialist Students and Young Socialists.
‘It is the responsibility of all young people to stand up’
Tamsin Jacobs, school student, Highgate Wood School
When Donald Trump came to visit on 13 July, I and several of my classmates walked out of school in protest. We acted in this way to show governments and certain political leaders that their actions do not benefit the majority.
In the act of walking out, we wanted to show that young people are politically engaged and care strongly about our future. We wanted to stand in solidarity with all the American high school students who walked out of their classes to protest against Donald Trump and his dangerous and discriminatory politics.
Donald Trump’s policies are the epitome of inequality and prejudice. The fact that school students such as myself are the ones who recognise this issue more clearly than Trump’s cabinet and other high-ranking officials speaks volumes.
It is essential to understand that it is not only Trump we are protesting against, but the entire premise of Trumpism and all that his philosophy represents. Trump’s presidency is a mystery to me. How is it possible that a man of his overt bigotry has risen into such a powerful position?
I believe it is the responsibility of all young people to stand up against Trump and his destructive lunacy.
Interview: ‘we could really go and just get our voices heard’
The Socialist spoke to school student Naomi Hunter Epson from Park View School in Tottenham.
Why did you decide to walk out?
I thought it was really important that – for this march to be a success – we have lots of people. And I totally support everything it stood for. So I thought, why not?
My friend Tania let me know about it, and I just thought it was a great idea to come together, and we could really go and just get our voices heard, because so far we haven’t had a good opportunity.
How did you organise it?
My friend Tania, I think, she was initially contacted from Socialist Students, and then she sent round an email. And then she got leaflets and gave them out to me, and we all handed out leaflets in the community and in the school. And on the actual day we waited outside the school, like a checkpoint kind of thing, to collect people, and then we could all go.
How was the demonstration?
Oh, it was fantastic! It was so big, for one. And it was so great reading all the signs people had written because people had obviously spent a lot of time coming up with really witty things to say about Trump. It was brilliant.
Such a lovely atmosphere, because everyone was obviously there for the same reason. You didn’t know who was standing next to you, but you were all shouting the same thing – and yeah, it was brilliant.
Do you think it will have an effect?
On Donald Trump – well, he’s definitely got the message that in fact we don’t like him over here. I think we’ve made it clear that what he previously thought about Britain was not true.
On our school – I think for the students who came, yeah, it was definitely a kind of – like we can actually be part of something. That Socialist Students – I didn’t know about it before, but it’s actually a really good opportunity to be part of something that can get your voice heard, and contribute to something.
For some of the teachers – it’s a definite ‘oh no, we actually can’t stop them from leaving! They’re gonna leave if they want!’ And now they know which ones to watch out for, which ones are the political ones. Yeah, the headteacher’s a bit wary now.
Did you get support from some of the teachers?
So much support. It was very split. As we were standing outside and we had other teachers coming and shouting at us, telling us to get inside, we also had teachers coming past going “this is amazing, I will be joining you after school, this is so good girls, keep it up!” So much support, it was really lovely.
What do you plan next?
We were talking just before the march with other people from Socialist Students at Trafalgar Square. In our community we thought that the biggest thing we should tackle should be racism. So we had talked about doing meetings at our school, maybe taking it out further in the community.
But also making it a regular thing, and seeing how many people from school would come. Because not a lot of people came to the march during the day, but a lot of people came after school. So we thought that would be a really, really good opportunity in our school. And then maybe, if we had a session in our school, we could partner it up with the other schools who came.
Are there issues at school you’d like to campaign on?
We do definitely have a lack of resources. It can be little things like glue sticks, or just in general, cutting down on printing and things.
Also funding in terms of trips. It feels like – what normally happens is there’ll be a trip – for example, we were going to go to Germany, because I did GCSE history. They subsidise it – but still, every student has to pay £200 or whatever.
And then only like two people out of the whole GSCE history classes would pay, because people just can’t afford it. If the school could subsidise it more – because people in our community, we actually can’t afford this. And it’s such a shame that we all have to miss out on it.
So if there was something the government could do to help schools in deprived areas to pay for these trips, because I don’t believe it’s fair that we miss out because we’re poor.
We say that education funding cuts should be reversed – and that means political change
Yes, which we need.