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How the Youth of Today Can Change The World

The Newsboys’ Strike of 1899

Just a week ago, my siblings and I performed in a production of Newsies Jr. at our local children’s theater. Newsies is a Disney musical-turned-Broadway show detailing the Newsboys’ Strike of 1899, when the kids employed to sell newspapers by The World and the New York Journal - the former owned by Joseph Pulitzer and the latter owned by William Randolph Hearst - went on strike for two weeks after an unfair increase in the price of papers. Living on the streets, these ragged children were unbelievably tough, and they were doing the unthinkable since Pulitzer and Hearst also controlled much of the press. The strike was no joke. After many speeches, bloody battles, and marching in the blazing heat of July, they rallied child workers all over the city. Thanks to their unending determination and clever maneuvering, the Newsies of New York managed to beat two great Goliaths. Their crusade caused a ripple effect, resulting in the implementation of child labor laws that protected future kids from becoming abused and underpaid - all because the Newsies fought for a better life.

I babysit, volunteer in a children’s Sunday school class, and worked with little kids as assistant director for children’s Shakespeare productions. I also try to guide and look out for my younger siblings. Before I had those jobs, I think it would have shocked me that a group of kids took on the most powerful adults in the state of NY. But after talking to and spending time with them, I realize it was more plausible than it sounds.

Children are powerful.

The most profound, clever things I’ve ever heard uttered have come from the mouths of kids. They notice the tiniest details. Because their spirits are so young and untainted by the humdrum and silliness of the world, they’ve got a very clear sense of right and wrong (if taught properly), and very strong senses of justice. Why else do companies and politicians attempt to appeal to their younger audiences? They know how important children are, and how much power they hold over the future. That is where great parents come in. Kids are already powerful, but with the right guidance, love, and understanding from their parents it only multiplies tenfold. Mothers who support and nurture their children rock the world by giving them the support they need to do the same. The youth hold the power of mighty miracles in their hands. God stood with a lone child fighting a giant with a slingshot. That boy grew up to be king, and became the bloodline of Christ. I believe God stood with a band of street kids shouting their voices hoarse in the streets against two very different kinds of giants. What they did saved the kids of today from having to work themselves to the bone in factories and sweatshops. So if we support the children of this generation, who knows what they can accomplish?

I am not a mother, so keep in mind that I am saying this as an oldest sibling and a caretaker of children: listen to your kids. This may seem obvious, but I mean it. Really listen to what they have to say. Kids say a lot of funny, silly things because that’s what a kid does when they’re having fun. But they also say incredibly wonderful things of all kinds, if we only take a moment to listen. I wasn't always heard by my teachers and friends. And, while I appreciate and love her immensely, even my own mother could have listened to me more at a few crucial points in my life. I have tried to talk to the kids I work with as if they can really listen and understand me, because they can. As I sang and danced on stage, dressed as a Newsie, I remember that it felt very real - the dirty streets, the stifling heat, the looming threat the children were facing. It drove home for me how powerful this youth movement was. How powerful children really are, even in the darkest of hours. ESPECIALLY in the darkest of hours.

Treasure those kiddos of yours, moms. Rock their world. Every one of them is light and hope itself. If you ever get the chance, look up the Newsboys’ Union for yourself and “read all about it!”. Really think about what was being done and what that must have been like. Here’s to helping our kids of the future “carry the banner through it all”, no matter who or what tries to knock them down.

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