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Youth-led We Are Gen Change to hold Towson rally to encourage voting, inclusive education

We Are Gen Change, an organization fighting for social change, will be holding its first rally Wednesday afternoon in Towson.

Striving to uphold human rights and inform the public through the eyes of youth, the rally is meant to encourage young people to register to vote and generate discussion on how to create a more inclusive education system.

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The rally will be held at 1 p.m. at the Baltimore County Circuit Court at 401 Bosley Avenue.

Founded in June by seven students at Towson High School — Kenya Branche, Khoudia Dieye, Laura Fey, Patrice Gapaz, Jennifer Oluka, Sabina Smith and Madison Troutman — the organization was sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

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The event will feature four speakers: Ruben Amaya, a student at Stevenson University and former president of the Baltimore County Student Councils; Marietta English, a member of the NAACP Baltimore County; Josh Muhumuza, student member of the BCPS Board of Education and a rising senior at Dundalk High School; and Cheryl Pasteur, a former principal and current member of the BCPS Board of Education.

Since its launch, the organization has accumulated more than 500 followers on Instagram, where it has posted on a variety of topics including Black Lives Matter, DACA and the LGBTQ community.

Dieye, 17, is a rising senior at Towson High School and community outreach manager for the organization.

As a part of her role, it was her responsibility to reach out to the speakers for the rally.

Inspired by Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, becoming a part of the national conversation, she said the organization wanted to push the school system to include minority studies in its curriculum.

“We never really learned about Asian, Hispanic or African American history [except] the Civil War,” she said. “We want to reach out to someone who is willing to help us change that.”

Muhumuza, who learned about the rally from Dieye, said he wanted to participate to speak out about the issues affecting young people.

“I feel like my platform and the platform of others have amplified these conversations and bring attention to the issues that face our youth,” he said. “Leaders in our school system have to take the opportunity to go to these rallies to show solidarity. We don’t want the youth to feel like they’re not worth listening to.”

Amaya said he learned about the rally from Clifford Collins, second vice president of the NAACP Baltimore County.

As a former BCPS student, he said he wanted to be a part of getting young people involved in politics and policy.

“It is important that youth understand that age is but a number and with this rally and in the future when youth get involved in anything to not be afraid to share their opinion,” he said. “Youth have just as much constituency as older adults.”

Dieye said she hopes the rally will be the first step toward change in the community.

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“I hope that more people realize that their vote matters and members of the [Board of Education] will take a leap toward a more inclusive education system,” she said.

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