On May 11th, 2021 Mikva Challenge hosted the Soapbox Nation Mainstage: a culminating showcase for 12 outstanding Project Soapbox speeches that were chosen from hundreds of submissions from across the country. This virtual event featured powerful speeches from middle and high school students answering the question, “What is the most pressing issue facing young people today, why is it important, and what should be done about it?”

The Soapbox Nation Mainstage opened with words of encouragement from Congresswoman Lucy McBath to the young leaders who dared to speak out on the issues that they care about the most. The audience was then introduced to the Civic Partners: adult leaders who came prepared to give feedback on the finalist’s speeches, and lend their insight and wisdom to the budding leaders of a new generation of politicians and activists.

The stage was set, and it was time to hear about the issues that the young people chose to bring attention to using the Soapbox platform. True to form, the speakers this year were powerful, and spoke about topics that ranged from the personal to the political – each student brought their own unique, nuanced perspective and spoke with a high level of eloquence and expertise. 

The event gave young people the space to be heard, as well as offering opportunities for more learning by employing the help of Civic Partners to meaningfully support students and expand their scope of thinking. The event served as an important reminder to never undersell the power, the importance, or the volume of youth voice. The speakers were not only brave enough to speak out on important issues they hold close to their hearts, but did so with well-formed arguments, substantial research, and a true passion that has the ability to change our communities.

Guest blog written by Omaree Dunord, Mikva Challenge intern