The global issues confronting today's youth

  • William Brown, 23 years old
Question: What issue or cause is on your mind this year? 
Answer: Ebola
  • Sam Shannon, 25 years old
Question: What issue or cause is on your mind this year?
Answer: Clean energy
  • Schuyler Tsuday, 34 years old
Question: What issue or cause is on your mind this year?
Answer: Gender equality
  • Cheyenne Logan, 17 years old
Question: What issue or cause is on your mind this year?
Answer: Poverty
  • Drea, 22 years old
Question: What issue or cause is on your mind this year?
Answer: Institutional racism
  • Emann Odufu, 25 years old
Question: What issue or cause is on your mind this year?
Answer: Education reform
  • Annie Zucker, 18 years old
Question: What issue or cause is on your mind this year?
Answer: Clean oceans (save the mermaids)
  • Facundo Santana, 27 years old
Question: What issue or cause is on your mind this year?
Answer: Rock N’ Roll
  • Ruby Alice, 13 years old
Question: What issue or cause is on your mind this year?
Answer: Racial profiling
  • Stephen Pantelides, 26 years old
Question: What issue or cause is on your mind this year?
Answer: The more technology advances the more lazy we become
  • Jenna Ferolie, 16 years old
Question: What issue or cause is on your mind this year?
Answer: Child exploitation
  • Silken Solomon, 20 years old
Question: What issue or cause is on your mind this year?
Answer: Educational enrichment for underprivileged communities
  • Mathew McGinnis, 21 years old
Question: What issue or cause is on your mind this year?
Answer: Ebola
  • Michael Delin, 29 years old
Question: What issue or cause is on your mind this year?
Answer: Freedom isn’t free
  • Eddy Martinex, 27 years old
Question: What issue or cause is on your mind this year?
Answer: Global warming
  • Abby Gustafson, 13 years old
Question: What issue or cause is on your mind this year?
Answer: Ebola

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They’ve marched in picket lines demanding higher wages for low-paid fast food workers. They’ve occupied public spaces in the name of class equity. And they’ve protested and rebelled against police brutality and for justice for a growing list of dead minority youth killed by police or by vigilantes.

They are a generation decades removed from the not-so-halcyon days of the 1960s and 1970s when youth culture was largely defined by scorched earth, protest and the rejection of American convention. Things have changed. And despite accusations lobbed by old-schoolers that young folks have grown disinterested in social change and have lost their way in an age of video games and incessant text messaging, this generation has taken up causes in ways distinctly their own.

Social media has become the major driver behind organizing and raising funds. Young people are as cause-driven as their predecessors with the benefit of advanced technology.

This past weekend was a great example of that. About 60,000 people, the majority of them young, descended upon New York City’s Central Park to attend the Global Citizen Festival, an annual effort organized to help eradicate world poverty and hunger. Entry to the concert, which featured dignitaries from around the world, celebrities and some of music’s biggest stars, was earned by signing petitions, tweets and Facebook messages.

MSNBC talked with some of the attendees and asked one simple question: What issue or cause is on your mind this year?

Their answers spanned the spectrum, from clean energy, poverty and gender equality to education reform, institutional racism and saving rock n’ roll.

In a series of profile photographs for MSNBC, photographer Geordie Wood captured the heart and hopefulness of those driven to the festival by the issues that matter to them most.

For more feature photography, go to msnbc.com/photography

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