CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Teenage Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg was in Charlotte Friday for ongoing, weekly strikes led by 14-year-old Myers Park student Mary Ellis Stevens.
In September, Thunberg, 16, gave a speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit, inspiring teens around the world to have weekly rallies as part of the Fridays for Future Movement.
Since then, Stevens has been rallying outside the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center on Fourth Street every Friday, sometimes alone.
She said she was in class one day when Thunberg replied to her a direct message about joining her protest in Charlotte.
“I definitely had to pinch myself,” Stevens said. “I was in the middle of biology and I remember nothing from that class, because I was so incredibly excited.”
Channel 9 went to the rally and hundreds of people could be seen outside the center supporting the movement.
Thunberg said she finds it hard to have hope in politicians but youth using their voices inspires her.
“No matter how bad the odds may be, we will never give up, because that is simply not an option,” Thunberg said Friday.
Friday's rally marks 31 weeks of strikes for Thunberg.
“There is not enough time to wait for us to grow up and become the ones in charge, because we need to tackle the climate and ecological emergency, right now,” Thunberg said.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools did not allow excused absences for those who wanted to be there but that didn't stop hundreds of kids from attending the rally.
“We demand change, and we demand action on the climate crisis,” student Lucia Paulsen said.
Thunberg made international headlines when she addressed world leaders at the United Nations Climate Action Summit.
"I shouldn't be up here. I should be back at school on the other side of the ocean," Thunberg said at the summit. "Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words."
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