At the Power Up! divestment convergence at Swarthmore College this past weekend, a group of frontline community representatives submitted this letter of solidarity and invitation addressed to student activists. We think it’s beautiful, and we hope you do to. Cross-posted from the Power Up! blog.

Dear students,

We write to you from the front lines. Some of our communities have been fighting the fossil fuel empire for generations. Others have only recently joined this struggle. We send our support and gratitude for leading this fossil fuel divestment campaign. This is a mighty cause you are joining: challenging some of the biggest threats humans have ever seen and committing to what must become a global movement.

We support your mission to hold your universities accountable. Institutions of learning must challenge systems that endanger the future of younger generations. We believe that colleges and universities divesting from fossil fuels and reinvesting in clean energy will deliver a powerful political message. And yet, we—as frontline and indigenous leaders—encourage you to dig deeper. We encourage you to understand your campaigns as part of a much longer struggle, one that has been going on for generations, for justice and health, and the environment.

The corporations you are targeting have pushed our people up against the edge of survival. We live in the land coal companies have stolen and destroyed. We live in the land the oil, fracking, and uranium industries have poisoned. As the climate crisis worsens, it is frontline and indigenous communities who are hit hardest. When you demand that your colleges cut financial ties to ExxonMobil or Peabody Coalʼ s latest projects to pillage the earth – itʼ s our land and communities youʼ re acting in solidarity with. Our work is deeply tied together.

Please join us. From the indigenous peoples, to the coal fields, fracking wells, refineries, and communities facing all manners of extreme energy production. Fight the fossil fuel industry on campus, but not only on campus. Join us in our communities and our fights and bind your struggle to ours.

We welcome you to this movement with open arms. Together we can defeat the dirty energy industry and build a healthy, sustainable, and just world.

In solidarity,

Robert J Thompson, REDOIL (Kaktovik, AK)
Kirby Spangler, Castle Mountain Coalition (Palmer, AK)
Veronica Coptis, Center for Coalfield Justice (Greene County, PA)
Janene Yazzie, Sixth World Solutions
Chief Gary Harrison, Chickaloon Tribe Alaska
Dustin White, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (Southern West Virginia)
Iris Marie Bloom, Protecting Our Waters (Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale Region)
Blas Espinosa, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (Houston, TX)
Victoria Corona, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (Houston, TX)
Liana Lopez, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (Houston, TX)
Theresa Dardar, Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe (Louisiana)
Meagan Dochuk, 1st Nations Aamjiwnaang
Ron Plain, 1st Nations Aamjiwnaang
Elandria Williams, Highlander Center (Knoxville, TN)