About 100 high school students gathered outside Madison East during their third period classes on Monday, May 1st, ready to make the two-mile journey to the Capitol for the annual May Day rally.

Erika Esparza
Erika Esparza

“Today, I march for not only my family, friends, and myself, but also for those who I do not know, and for those who will come after me. I march because the government should be for the people, not against them, and whether others like it or not, we are all people, regardless of race, gender, social class, or legal status, and currently our government fails to be for all,” said Erika Esparza, President of East High’s Latino Student Union and organizer of the walk out.

Esparza and her classmates walked out of school on Monday to express their support for immigrant rights, refugee rights, and labor rights on what is known as May Day.

May 1, or May Day, is a traditional day to demonstrate for immigrant rights, but due to the current political climate this year’s rally is different. The Trump Administration has threatened to separate families by deport thousands of undocumented individuals, instilling fear in Latino communities all around the nation.

“People assume the youth pays no mind to what goes on around them. However, we are not as oblivious as others think,” Esparza said. “We are conscious. Conscious of how our families are being targeted for chasing the American Dream, conscious of how we are judged for being black or brown, how we are seen as a threat simply for our existence.”

Esparza is the daughter of undocumented immigrants who migrated to the U.S 25 years ago in search of the American Dream. After seeing how devastated her parents and undocumented peers were after Trump’s election, she knew it was time to speak up.

“In a time so filled with chaotic and senseless hatred, we, the youth, say no more. It is time to take a stand and demand respect. We demand to be treated fairly and to have the true freedom of living in a country where our existence is respected,” Esparza said. “I refuse to stay put, to stay quiet, and to live in the shadows. Today, we fight, tomorrow we continue to fight, and we shall fight as many tomorrow’s until we can truthfully say that today we are all equal.”