Kids take the spotlight at the Democratic National Convention

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Democrats invited young people to speak out on a variety of issues impacting their future.

The third night of the Democratic National Convention featured some of the biggest names in Democratic politics — former President Barack Obama, vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and more.

But it was children who stole the show Wednesday, speaking to issues they're fighting for, and explaining why Democrats are best equipped to handle them.

From gun violence, to climate change, to immigration reform, children and other young people described how those issues impact their lives, and why Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is their choice because of his stances on those issues.

Early on in the evening, the convention played a video about gun violence narrated by Emma Gonzales — who survived the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, as a teenager and has since become a gun control advocate.

"People affected by gun violence have to walk by the street corner where their best friend, their brother, their mother, their nephew, where they themselves were shot, and life goes on and on as if we haven't just watched a loved one die and get put in the grave," Gonzales says in the video, which features images of memorials to victims of mass shootings like the one she survived.

"The whole point of what I'm saying here is that until one of us or all of us stand up and say, 'I can't do this anymore. I can't sit by and watch the news treat these shootings as acts of God.' Gun violence isn't just going to stop until there's a voice fighting harder against it," Gonzales added.

Later in the program, the convention featured young climate change activists who describe why they're fighting to help stop climate change, and why they are backing Biden to help achieve that goal.

"Joe Biden's plan is transformative," Katherine Lorenzo, who describes herself as an Afro-Latina and climate activist, said in a video. "He knows that saving the planet isn't just a challenge to overcome, it's an opportunity for a better way of life."

In another powerful moment, an 11-year-old child named Estella, whose undocumented mother was deported despite being the wife to a U.S. Marine and having no criminal record, read an open letter to Donald Trump about how his policy has impacted her life.

"Instead of protecting us, you tore our world apart," she said in the video. "Now my mom is gone, and she's been taken from us for no reason at all."

And Billie Eilish, an 18-year-old Grammy Award-winning artist, spoke about why she is endorsing Biden before performing one of her new songs titled "My Future."

"Donald Trump is destroying our country and everything we care about," Eilish said before performing her song. "We need leaders who will solve problems like climate change and COVID, not deny them. Leaders who will fight against systemic racism and inequality, and that starts by voting for someone who understands how much is at stake, someone who is building a team that shares our values. It starts with voting against Donald Trump and for Joe Biden."

Democrats are hoping to energize young voters to turn out in November.

Polls show young voters overwhelmingly favor Biden over Trump. However, young voters traditionally vote at lower rates than older Americans.

It's why the Democratic Party featured voices like Eilish to encourage her peers to vote.

"Silence is not an option and we cannot sit this one out," Eilish said Wednesday night. "We all have to vote like our lives and the world depend on it, because they do. The only way to be certain of the future is to make it ourselves."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.