DC High School Students Launch Their First Virtual Town Hall With Local Leaders



A group of DC teens will launch their first virtual public forum on Saturday as they seek to change their communities through thoughtful conversations.

Students attending DC Teen Town Hall. From left to right: Kevon Gates, Heidi Fuentes and Michelle Tillery. (Courtesy DC Teen City Hall)

A group of DC teens will launch their first virtual public forum on Saturday as they seek to change their communities through thoughtful conversations.

The discussion, titled “Race in America: Teen Speak Virtual Town Hall,” will cover everything from racism to immigration and gun violence.



The teens ran the town hall as part of Marion Barry’s summer youth employment program. During the six-week program, they wrote and produced segments with local leaders and community members.

“It was like a family because everyone [was] committed, ”said Kevon Gates, sophomore at Kipp College Preparatory. “If we all stay together, we can abolish racism and any other difference that separates us. “

Students spoke with DC Police Chief Robert Contee about community violence and its impact. He applauded their determination to ask questions and hold leaders to account.

“You are young leaders in our community. The best way to make an impact is to get involved, ”said Contee. Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn and former DC First Lady Cora Masters Barry also participated in the discussion.

Second-year student Heidi Fuentes was the co-host of the event and said she believes she represents a group of people who are not always heard.

“I would love to see a big change with racism against Hispanics and all other cultures. I would like people to be treated equally, ”said Fuentes.

The program was more robust than Michelle Tillery expected. Senior High School sophomore Benjamin Banneker said it reminded her that she is from a generation ready to change communities across the country.

“We are the generation of activists, the people who really do things,” she said.

City Hall will air at 7 p.m. on the District Knowledge Network, and again on Sunday at 2 p.m.

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