DC Teens Action is Reinventing Youth Activism in the DMV, with Gabrielle Zwi Leading the Charge

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Gabrielle Zwi holding a megaphone. text reads
Gabrielle Zwi, 20, fights for progressive values across the greater DC area. Source: @GabrielleZwi Twitter

Millennials and Gen-Z have given themselves a reputation for progressive values and powerful activism. However, the various changemakers often forget one very crucial step: talking to each other. At least, Gabrielle Zwi believed that to be the case. DC Teens Action was founded by the twenty-year-old Rockville native to unite the DMV’s abundance of student activists. Zwi explained that she created the organization at age seventeen because of Washington DC and its surrounding areas’ “huge student activism culture… [there are] all these amazing groups but none of them know about each other.” DC Teens Actions creates a “centralized location for students in the DC area.”

     After the March for Our Lives movement took hold of the nation, Zwi saw a need to connect different organizations in order to create a housing network for those traveling to DC for protests. They have seen a second surge of popularity through 2020’s focus on the Black Lives Matter cause. Zwi explains, “Our page first started really growing during March for Our Lives… but after George Floyd we’ve gotten more success.” She comments on her conflicting feels about their growth being triggered by “something horrible happening.” But, she is comforted by the fact that their work at least aims to reduce such atrocities. Now, DC Teens Action has grown from a networking site to “more of a generic hub for protest information.” While the membership is mostly student-based, their social media pages reach more of a general audience.

     Moreover, the organization creates a resource for accessible activism, promoting ways to get involved for disabled and immunocompromised students who often are unable to attend events. Zwi adds that the page “makes representation and communication between students in different areas easier.” Although, this can be challenging while coordinating with multiple school districts.

Currently, the group has members from ninety high schools and colleges. In the future, she hopes to make it even more accessible by providing support for those without access to technology. Zwi explains that she herself “didn’t get a computer until recently.” Intersectionality is important to DC Teens Action, evident through their leadership of a queer, disabled, Latina woman and their posting of content from human trafficking to information for Black people with autism.

     In terms of growth, DC Teens Action also plans to start fundraising and hosting in-person events post-COVID-19. The group has surpassed 14,000 followers on Instagram. As for her personal goals, Gabrielle Zwi describes her dream job as a “singer/songwriter/senator” and will be attending Columbia University this year. Thanks to Gabrielle Zwi, DC Teens Action has created a central platform for student activism in DC, Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia.

Disclaimer: The writer has developed content for and worked with DC Teens Action prior to interviewing Gabrielle Zwi.

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Last Edited August 29, 2020

Annie Bennett lives in Severna Park and is currently attending Emerson College for journalism. She is nineteen years old and hopes to use media as a tool for social justice in her coming years.

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