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The Advocate Daily Podcast interviews Youth Over Guns’ Luis Hernandez

Advocate Daily is a podcast and editorial series focused on highlighting young community organizers and social justice advocates of color. In collaboration with The Gathering for Justice, we have recorded 10 episodes of audio content focused on different topics in the social justice sphere. Advocate Daily is a reminder: 

Educate. Empower. Elevate.

For the second episode of Advocate Daily, we spoke with 18-year-old Luis Hernandez, Youth Leadership and Engagement Coordinator at The Gathering for Justice.

Hernandez also started his own initiative, Youth Over Guns.

The mission for YOG, per its website, is “to build youth power in marginalized communities throughout the nation and encourage legislative advocacy to prevent gun violence, while shifting public discourse towards an evidentiary approach to keeping schools and communities safe.”

Hernandez spoke of youth activism, the personal reasons for his efforts working on judicial reform, and working with Justice League NYC and The Gathering.

“When we talk about youth leadership and we talk about youth activism and youth advocacy, a lot of times young folks are left out of those conversations and are only included as the person to receive it,” said Hernandez.

“And so what we’re normalizing is young folks who are already doing this work, who are experts in their own experiences — building them up, providing them with the tools and skills necessary to not only facilitate these kinds of discussions, but also bring together and work with their own peers, who may not be tapped into this work, and really loop them in to become advocates and activists in our communities.”

The youth should not be seen as pawns in the fight for justice — as a token of innocence and a false promise to look towards the future. The youth are wise, they are informed, and they are fed up with the lack of progress and clear perils on the horizon if things are not changed.

Luis Hernandez is very clearly a prominent figure as an organizer and activist. He is a strong orator, organizer, and ally for anyone marginalized.

This country needs strong leaders like Hernandez to unite, inform, and empower people.

But it is also clear that this effort for justice and equity right now is especially powerful because it is largely leaderless. There are more people marching, organizing, and speaking up on systemic racism and inequity right now than ever before.

The people are the leaders. All of us. And that is why we will see lasting change — and continue to fight even when the needle is moved ever-so-slightly forward.