Meet three Long Beach youth working to change how the city invests in young people

Sep. 24, 2020 / By

All photos by Ceferino Martirez.


While at the Youth Strategic Forum at Long Beach City College in March, VoiceWaves Reporter Ceferino Martirez spoke to three young activists who hope to get youth represented in the decision making that impacts their lives.

Though the forum took place before stay-at-home orders, their work continues. Read about three of the youth working to implement change in Long Beach.

A photo of Marissa Martinez.

Marissa Martinez, is a youth ambassador hailing from the Northside of Long Beach, she is smart, capable and very eager to help push the boundaries of social justice. Martinez is one of the many local youth activists trying to help historically impoverished communities attain more funding for infrastructure, schools, and healthcare. 

“The city needs leaders and it can’t be a leader that’s been the status quo,” Martinez said. “We need a whole coalition of people that have been historically and continually marginalized.”

Martinez also elaborated on the vulnerability of being undocumented in Long Beach, alongside the growing and rising poverty in the Northside. If the city isn’t able to provide economic security to these communities, they could easily be impacted should something disastrous occur within the city.

A photo of Janice Mendez.

Janice Mendez expressed a strong commitment to more representation and power for youth.

“I really value the voices of students that aren’t usually uplifted and community events like this are important to give youth a voice,” Mendez said.

She first became active during her sophomore year, inspired by the experience of seeing a lack of accountability against discrimination on the basis of gender, race and class at Lakewood High.

The Invest In Youth campaign is her way to bring about more resources and justice to students in Long Beach and other nearby cities. Mendez has recently been appointed a youth empowerment co-chair for the Yes on US campaign, in support of Measure US.

A photo of Noah X.

Noah X, has been working with the Invest in Youth campaign for about three years, a young Long beach activist. Noah represents Long Beach in organizations like The California Endowment’s President’s Youth Council, communicating the needs of the local working class youth to statewide partners.

“I’ve been here from the very start from where we are now,” X said. “So it’s been very important to follow through with what we’ve been doing, because I’ve done my blood sweat and tears for this work and try to get more youth investment and power.” 

Noah’s passion for the work he’s accomplished is best exemplified by calling it his “baby.”

“We’re hoping that our actions can bring more youth funding and more youth participation with the city council, so we can work together and instead of having them decide on what to invest in… [we show that] the youth should have a spot in the table,” X said. 

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Ceferino Martirez

Ceferino Martirez is a photojournalist with VoiceWaves. He is a history and history education major at CSULB who joined VoiceWaves in 2018. Martirez’s work focuses on street photography and protest coverage. His work with VoiceWaves has focused on using his photography to capture community voices on issues like housing, labor, and youth rights.