His name is Xiuhtezcatl. At 16 years old, he is one of the country’s most prominent environmental activists and he has been fighting against climate change for more than half his life. Colorado-born Xiuhtezcatl Martinez has become an impassioned voice for youth around the world, urging government leaders to take swift action to halt the effects of climate change. He was one of a group of kids who sued President Obama earlier this year, alleging his administration has failed to protect the environment for future generations, and he organized a petition to issue the same expectation to this year’s presidential candidates and it has already garnered more than 100,000 signatures. He is not even close to stopping. The teen is also a hip-hop artist, and fuses his message with his music for a brand of “hip-hop environmental activism” that is inspiring to people of all ages.
With his long, dark hair flowing, Xiuhtezcatl takes the microphone like an old pro. He speaks eloquently and passionately, like a veteran of the war against climate change—and a veteran he is. Xiuhtezcatl began protesting the destruction of the Earth when he was just six years old. In the video above, one of his first public speeches—given at a national environmental protection event—demonstrates the strength of his convictions, as well as his confidence.
Xiuhtezcatl’s poise and determination have made him into a spokesperson for his generation. He has become a world renowned climate activist and is now also the Youth Director of Earth Guardians, a youth-led activist/music movement started in 1992. Two years ago, the nonprofit produced the short film Kid Warrior, below, which profiles the young activist at the age of 14.
Now, some ten years after his first public speech, Xiuhtezcatl works to mobilize young kids and teens in 25 countries to demand environmental protections from policy makers and sometimes, he even addresses lawmakers personally. In the video below, the young activist speaks to the United Nations General Assembly on Climate Change on June 29, 2015.
The teen is not just an impassioned public speaker, but also a spoken word performer and hip-hop artist. Seamlessly weaving his many talents together, Xiuhtezcatl attends protests, hearings, and events across the country as a representative of the next generation. He calls for government agencies to work to halt climate change and preserve the environment for generations to come. He performs alongside his younger brother Itzcuauhtli Martinez, now 13, and backup singer Jasi Sikora. The video below is his speech and their musical performance at the 2015 National Bioneers Conference last November.
Images via Earth Guardians