It’s Independence Day 2018, the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, and so it seems a good time to meet Sadie Price-Elliott. A 16-year-old rising senior who lives in Newton, N.J., she just won a national award expressing her strong belief in the power of the First Amendment and the right of all Americans to protest.
Price-Elliott, who attends Sussex Technical High School in Sparta, created a four-minute film, titled “I Can’t Be Silent” (watch below), that was selected as the best of 278 submissions in the National Coalition Against Censorship’s annual contest.
Each year the group challenges filmmakers under 19 years old to create a short film on a current national debate involving First Amendment rights, and this year’s Youth Free Expression Program Film Contest focused on the themes of protest and change.
Price-Elliott, whose film was described by the coalition as an ode to protest, uses footage from the 2018 March for Our Lives in Washington as well as from 2017 and 2018 Women’s Marches in New Jersey, to tell her story about the importance of protest with accompanying music and narration. A panel of five filmmakers and educators chose her as the winner.
Many of the record-breaking 278 submissions were related to student political action sparked by the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting deaths of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. You can see the work of the eight semi-finalists at this link.
Price Elliott’s narration in “I Can’t Be Silent” is rhythmic. Here’s what she says:
CAN’T BE SILENT — Spoken Word Piece
Wake up and welcome to 2018.
Racism is relevant and discrimination is real
And misogyny seeps deeper than it ever has in years
And fears of each other are an increasingly growing sign
That our divides are growing stronger during polarizing times
And years of progress are being stripped away by the second
So today in this moment, our voices matter more than ever.
We stand for the climate and environment and a woman’s right to choose
And the use of the First Amendment and right to raise our voices.
We use each other to boost each other to amplify our demands,
To help others understand and reach out for struggling hands.
We are stronger together in this ongoing fight to build an intersectional movement
With a foundation of fundamental rights
And we protest because passion fuels our hearts and positive change drives our soul
And we will forevermore behold this world and the wonders that it holds.
We have the power to protect it and work to lift each other
As we support the march for progress and equality for one another.
And when I say ‘we’, I’m talkin’ ’bout my generation,
A powerhouse of young changemakers writing history for our nation.
But we are not alone and we are nothing without the past
And the people who fought relentlessly to bring forth lasting change.
See, nothing wouldn’t be the same
Without the renegades of our world
Who saw injustice as absurd and refused to go unheard
and championed endless fights and calls and walkouts and sit ins
against the infringement of our lives and our basic human rights.
It didn’t happen overnight and the end isn’t in sight
But thank you second wave feminism and the civil rights movement
For proving to the world that black students can learn with white students
And women have the power to start well-needed revolutions.
And of course, there are limitations to the bounds of our fight
We do not stand for violence or share our voice to dim others light
But it is our world and we deserve to be heard
And stay true and stand peacefully for the causes we believe in
And nonviolent protest against the issues that we’re facing
has proven to inspire laws and changes that move our nation
When hatred is erased from this ongoing equation
It comes down to the treatment of our fellow human beings
And we are all people on this earth and deserve to be treated as equals.
So we keep on showing up and our dissent is presented
And we share our perspectives and leverage our message
And we show up some more for those who never showed for us
Because enough is enough and we stand for more than ourselves
See, showing up is sharing your voice and voicing your ideals
It is perseverance at the face of fear
And endless persistence for years.
It is showing others how you feel and that your feelings are real
And it’s awareness and compassion and channeling contempt toward meaningful action
It is spreading ideas that spark movements and change that is impactful
And listening to other views and hearing new outlooks
It is reading papers and history books and using knowledge and education
To address and solve the problems that our country is facing
Because the world is not perfect but our quest toward a better one never ends
So we stand together as friends until our seeds of action start to bloom
And our fearlessly shared values grow into stems and strong-willed flowers
And as our petals drop to the ground after helping others feel empowered
Our future generations will pick and preserve and plant again
So our cycle of progress and social change doesn’t end.