Activists boost new wave


By Mikhayla Hughes-Shaw

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The Women’s March inspired many people across the nation, including Jeremiah Anthony, a local activist who has been heavily involved in a new wave of social-media activism called #March2Movement.

The nationally recognized nonprofit, Peace First, held a live Twitter event on Thursday evening with that movement.

One of the elected members of the organization, called a “peacemaker,” was Anthony, founder of the “WestHighBros,” an internationally recognized Twitter account that originated at Iowa City West High.

The event was created in response to the various women’s marches that occurred throughout the world. The goal is to inspire this generation to not stop combating inequality after the various marches and to create an ongoing movement.

Anthony said it is important to tell the youth of today that they are “the now and not just the future” and that they can make a difference today.

“The issues of sexism, racism, homophobia affect everyone,” he said.

Many individuals participated in the conversation, and the peacemakers were responsible for facilitating the conversations among their followers. The Peace First Twitter account tweeted various questions throughout an hour time span, opening the conversation to the general public.

The questions asked about the characteristics of an inclusive movement, what can be done to empower the youth of today, and how people can begin to take action toward ending injustice.

Anthony presented many thoughts to the conversation about creating an inclusive movement. He tweeted, “By understanding that a person’s perception is their reality, we create a more understanding world.”

He also shared that ranking injustice among others does not advance the movement. “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere [and] is a two-way street. Pain is pain,” he tweeted.

The peacemakers featured included Jasmine Babers, the founder of Love, GIRLS Magazine. Upon hearing that her best friend was being bullied, Babers started a self-esteem/anti-bullying magazine for young women by young women.

The magazine now features writers from Iowa City, the Quad City area, Memphis, and Washington, D.C. She is an advocate for women’s issues and has been recognized nationally for her activism.

Prior to the event, Babers said she was excited to engage with her followers and to get the conversation started. “Peace First is trying to [feed] off the activist energy in light of the recent election,” she said.

Babers wants to use this time to continue to inspire proactive change.

“[The election] is one of first detrimental situations this generation of young people has experienced,” she said. “The hate that has risen from the results is inspiring a lot of people to be young activists.”

The “WestHighBros” Twitter account was created to combat cyberbullying in West High. The account holders send out anonymous compliments to its followers in an attempt to raise self-esteem and validate individuals in a positive way. Anthony won many awards throughout the community for his work and later gained international recognition.

In its prime, WestHighBros reached more than 700 followers and 60 countries, and it was shared in more than 70 languages on six continents. The movement was also featured on the “Today Show,” Reader’s Digest and “Time for Kids.”

“I never expected it to get that big,” Anthony said.

Anthony said that although he does not partake in much hands-on work with WestHighBros, he oversees the organization and is looking at the bigger picture.

He said his main goal is to recognize those who also believe in his cause and continue to spread positivity throughout the world. “[The youth] is here to invent the future of activism, and it is time that we encourage them in their efforts,” he said.

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