Teens Explore Social Justice at the Free Library

By Administrator Thu, July 5, 2018

by Timmy Lawrence and Geneva Williams, members of the Youth Planning Committee for the 2018 Social Justice Symposium for Teens.

Today, more than ever, social issues have reached a pivotal point in our society. Although injustice may seem omnipresent, passionate teens such as ourselves have the power to change the injustices we see. From starting hashtags that turn into national movements to rallying in streets for justice, everyday people are displaying the fervor and power needed to change the conditions of society. To keep this momentum going, it is crucial to educate the next generation.

The Free Library’s Social Justice Symposium is a fun program where teens can meet other like-minded youth, learn about different issues in our society, and discuss ways to solve them. Through a series of workshops ranging from youth homelessness to transgender identity, teens will acquire the knowledge necessary to combat injustice, while also gaining a new perspective on our world. A day at the Social Justice Symposium will consist of meeting a well-known author or poet, socializing with amazing people, raffles, prizes, lunch, and enlightening workshops.

During last year’s symposium, we met Angie Thomas, author of the book The Hate U Give, and discussed the importance of her best-selling book which highlighted the unjust killings of Black men in disenfranchised communities. Having the opportunity to meet Angie Thomas directly was amazing because we were able to deeply talk about the different issues plaguing our community and the many actions that we can do to help ameliorate them.

Through the Symposium, we have attended workshops on mass incarceration, human trafficking, discrimination, privilege, and intersectionality. We have also made friends who we still keep in contact with today. We've learned about more social justice organizations within Philadelphia that were looking for teens that cared about their communities. We've walked out of the library feeling much more informed about the world around us, and confident that we are capable of social change.

We highly recommend anyone who has a passion for justice to attend the Free Library’s Social Justice Symposium for Teens! It was a worthwhile experience that has helped shape us into the activists we are today. With the eye-opening knowledge learned in this fun-filled day, we think teens will come out with a spirit for activism and a heart for justice.


The Free Library’s third annual Social Justice Symposium for Teens will be held at the Philadelphia City Institute Library on Saturday July 14. The program will feature Keynote Speaker Husnaa Hashim, the 2017-2018 Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate. Registration is required. To sign up, please stop by the Reference Desk, call 215-685-6621, or email hoopese@freelibrary.org.

Winning artwork of the 2018 Social Justice Art Contest, by high schooler Kymble Clark
Winning artwork of the 2018 Social Justice Art Contest, by high schooler Kymble Clark
Husnaa Hashim will be the Keynote Speaker at the 2018 Social Justice Symposium for Teens
Husnaa Hashim will be the Keynote Speaker at the 2018 Social Justice Symposium for Teens

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