An unlikely group is leading a rally in Philadelphia Wednesday, and has attracted dozens to join its cause.
Children of all ages will march outside the Liberty Bell in solidarity with movements of resistance taking place around the country ahead of Inauguration Day.With homemade signs and chants about inclusion, they are welcoming people of all ages and backgrounds to join their movement.
The sight of kids leading a protest is different, but certainly not unheard of. Perhaps most notably, Alabama schoolchildren who witnessed their parents’ involvement in the civil rights movementled a crusade more than 50 years ago. Trained in nonviolence tactics, kids in the Birmingham Children’s Crusade of 1963 were arrested, beaten with batons and threatened.
Still, they marched and sang protest songs, as photos of Alabama’s violent crackdown circulated nationwide, sparking outcry. The kids, some of them as young as 7, persisted and were ultimately triumphant.
Rally organizer and mom of four Julie Wilgus believes children deserve the opportunity to be heard, and is creating the platform to do it with the Philly Kids’ Solidarity Rally.
Wilgustold Metro that while the assumption about kids in protest is that they are acting on their parents’ beliefs, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
“It’s not really important to me that my kids hold the exact same opinions, but rather them having the freedom to believe what they want to believe, and research what they want to believe,” Wilgus said.
The rally itself doesn’t have much of a political slant, she said. While Wilgus’ kids have an Instagram account showing their support for former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, today’s event is more about solidarity and empathy for vulnerable communities. Especially in the wake of Martin Luther King Day.
“We thought over the course of this week they deserve the opportunity to be heard,” Wilgus said. “[The rally] is a really cool way to take all of the beautiful things that happened on MLK Day and all the important things we remember on that day and carry that momentum into the inauguration.”
She added that she and her family consider themselves part of the resistance to a lot of the “hatred that’s been put out there through Trump’s campaign.”
When asked how she presents such heavy topics as race, equality and activism to her kids, who range in age from 2 to 12, Wilgus said events like this help children process world events and their roles in them.
“All of these big, big concepts and large-scale problems, they’re hard for all of us,” she said. “I’m 100 percent about kids having time to play, to explore, to do all the fun things in life, but we owe it to them because they’re inheritingthis from us.”
IF YOU GO
Where:Liberty Bell, Sixth and Market streets; the march will travel from there to Arch Street, down to Fifth Street to Independence Mall and back to the meeting place.
When:4-6 p.m. Wednesday, weather permitting.
Get more information on Facebook by searching for “Philly Kids Solidarity Rally.”