Over 100 Long Beach high school students marched from Recreation Park to Second Street Tuesday afternoon—waving signs that read “Abortion is healthcare” and chanting, “They say no choice, we say pro-choice.”
Two Wilson High School juniors, Anika Stewart and Dayne Rash Arguello, led the march in response to the leaked initial draft opinion two weeks ago that showed a majority of Supreme Court justices voting to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. In the weeks since Politico broke the story, people have gathered to rally for abortion rights nationwide in anticipation of the decision becoming final.
Arguello and Stewart, 16, told the Post that they spent the past week studying for AP Exams while simultaneously planning the rally, spreading the word on social media and placing flyers around their campus. The teens were determined to get as many of their peers on board as possible.
“It was really important for us to stand up and have our voices be heard,” said Arguello, who is the president of the Wilson Female Leadership Academy. “We wanted to give women and our friends a safe place and teach them how to stand up for themselves.”
In just over a week, the pair rallied dozens of their peers, mostly Wilson High students, for the 1.5-mile trek down to a busy stretch of Second Street where they received honks in support and thumbs up from cars and curious passersby.
“We’re the generation that’s going to be most affected in the end and we should be the ones spreading this type of awareness,” said Wilson High student, Kalaishakeutrah Brawley, 18, who participated in the rally with her group of friends.
Some of the students’ supportive parents followed close by.
“I want her to be an activist and fight for what she believes in, for her and all the kids in her generation,” said Ted Hollister, 53, who showed up to support his 15-year-old daughter Andy, a freshman at Wilson. “We want all of our kids to critically think and to act on that to make our communities better.”
Stewart, who is vice president of the Wilson Female Leadership Academy, has her friend and parents to thank for her desire to organize. Earlier this year, Stewart and her mom, Rhea, raised over $60,000 to pay for the medical expenses of a friend in need of a heart transplant.
“I grew up not having to worry about anything and I’ve had really well-educated parents who taught me how to think for myself,” said Stewart. “I feel like if I had these skills that were given to me and didn’t share them it would be a waste.”