NEW YORK — The past few days in New York City have certainly busted one prominent myth — that youth in the U.S. are apathetic about politics or indifferent to the Bush policies. On Aug. 28, over 500 young people gathered at St. Mark’s Church in New York City to kick off the Books Not Bombs Youth Convergence. The event was organized by the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition (NYSPC), the largest youth-led antiwar group in the country.

The day started off with rallying cries from young activists, explaining what the coalition calls the “Books Not Bombs Agenda.” Naomi Gordon-Loebl, of New York Youth Bloc, explained that young people in New York City feel the impact of the billions of dollars spent on the war in Iraq in their overcrowded classrooms and ancient textbooks. Luis Reyes told the story of how students mobilized to kick military recruiters out of Bushwick High School in Brooklyn — and won. And Fernando Suarez del Solar of Military Families Speak Out told the young people present how the war in Iraq cost him his son’s life, along with thousands of other Iraqi and American lives.

Organizers say the day was intended to build the youth movement for peace, justice, and education. Workshops focused on issues like the criminalization of youth, the situation on the ground in Iraq, youth in the labor movement, and the impact of the Patriot Act. Discussions took place on how young people at the convergence can go back to their schools, campuses and communities and use strategies like creating independent media, registering young voters, and building coalitions to advance the demand for “books not bombs.”

The workshops were accompanied by a full day of arts programming at a nearby theater, where Theaters Against War and Billionaires Against Bush put on anti-Bush interactive performances. Poetry and multi-media media shows from Climbing Poetree and the Beehive Collective demonstrated the “culture of resistance.”

“Youth and students came from all over: Las Vegas, Chicago, St. Paul, Boston, Immokalee – I could go on! “ said Jason Fults of NYSPC. “And community groups from New York City had a strong presence as well.”

The group went on to form the Books Not Bombs youth contingent in Sunday’s enormous “Say No to the Bush Agenda” march, organized by United for Peace and Justice. The marchers, some of whom traveled together on the subway from Harlem, the Bronx, and Washington Heights, invigorated the march with their energy and chanting. As the group passed Madison Square Garden, where the Republican National Convention is being held, the youth contingent led the crowd in singing “Na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye.”

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