Photo courtesy of Alina Wong. 626 Speak Out advocated for suicide prevention on Sept. 23 by attaching uplifting notes in a shape of a heart onto the bridge next to Mark Keppel High School. “No one is truly alone, and even with physical distance, we are together and will grow stronger through it,” Outreach and Membership representative sophomore Calvin Truong said.

626 Speak Out promotes student activism in AUSD

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In response to the civil rights movement sparked by the resurgence in the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM), students in the 626 area founded multiple activist organizations, prominently  626 Speak Out (626SO). It launched this past Aug. 10 in order for members to “play their part in combating local and global injustices.”

Although not directly tied to BLM, 626SO spreads awareness on multiple issues that pertain to the Black community and other minorities, such as racism. Editor sophomore Jasmine Ly hopes that with the activism 626SO is taking, people will be more aware of their own actions as racism is something she has witnessed multiple times while being a part of the AUSD community.

“I cannot count the number of times that kids came up to me and pulled back their eyes, calling me ‘Ling Ling’ and making fun of the food I ate,” Ly said. “I thought this was normal and just something to deal with as an Asian, but now I know to stand up for myself and our Latino community as well.”

On Sept. 23, 626SO hosted an awareness event dedicated to National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The club asked members to write notes of encouragement and affirmation to decorate the bridge near Mark Keppel High School.

“Over 275 cards of supportive messages were made,” sophomore Jayden Chow, Outreach and Membership leader, said. “Our board leaders used these notes to form a heart on the bridge, creating a symbol of hope for those struggling with mental health.”

General member freshman Cindy Phan participated in another 626SO event on Aug. 23, where the club allowed students to voice their concerns about any issue they felt needed more attention. Members made handwritten posters that were published onto the 626SO Instagram account. Phan decorated her poster with the words, “Trans women are REAL WOMEN. Trans men are REAL MEN. Respect their pronouns.”

“Failing to acknowledge a person’s identity or gender is exclusive and makes transgender people feel ‘inferior,’” Phan said. “Transphobia can harm someone’s mental health and make transgender people less likely to express themselves or feel comfortable in their own skin.” 

In addition to hosting monthly events, 626SO creates and posts infographics on its Instagram account. 626SO has already posted multiple graphics discussing performative activism, gaslighting, consent, and wildfires. The club has obtained an audience of over 865 followers on Instagram, and its goals for the future are to expand its influence as well as to touch on new topics such as voting.

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