Power to the People Podcast



The Blum Center approaches poverty as a problem of democracy.

A key pillar of democacy is voice, and in particular, ensuring all voices are provided a platform to be heard.





On the Power to the People podcast, we explore the youth perspective at the forefront of today's conversations about poverty, inequality and democracy. We use this platform to make discussions of poverty and inequality relatable and inclusive to young people, highlighting marginalized perspectives that are often overlooked. As students, we hope this podcast serves as a resource for our peers who are interested in activism and ready to take the next step.

In our first series, we explored the power and potential of this generation of young people — what issues they care about related to poverty and inequality, what drives them to call for change, who they see as effective agents of change, and how their defining characteristics compare historically to other generations of youth years ago. After providing a general portrait of this generation, we examined the critical ways in which identity shapes youth experiences and activism today.  Our hosts, all of whom are young women of color, hope to highlight youth change makers at home and abroad and contribute to a more inclusive democratic discourse.       

Episode Overview

We are witnessing one of the largest and most diverse generations in history come of age. A growing number, like Greta Thunberg, Isra Hirsi, and Nadya Okamoto, are already emerging as leaders on the national and global stage. This episode investigates the specific issues young people care about, as well as what changes they think need to be made in society--from our global response to climate change to healthcare being a right everyone deserves. UCSB students tell us what moves them and how they think change is best made. In addition to showcasing issues of importance to youth today, we investigate how their concerns compare to those of other generations and start a conversation about why they may differ.

Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/ucsbblumcenter/pwr-2-the-ppl-episode-1

Interested in learning more? Check out these relevant readings below:

Harvard Institute of Politics Poll Spring 2019 for people aged 18-29

I.V. Leads Effort as SB Sees 55 Percent Voter Turnout, The Daily Nexus, 2016

Activist Thunberg turns spotlight on indigenous struggle at climate summit, Reuters, 2019

Isra Hirsi is 16, Unbothered, and Saving the Planet, Vice, 2019



Young people today have lived through so many world-changing events in their lifetimes, from the election of President Barack Obama, the first Black president of the United States of America, to the 9/11 attacks, and now a global pandemic. In this episode, in conversation with UC Santa Barbara Professor of History, Dr. Alice O'Connor and Humboldt State University Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, Dr. Sarah Jacquette Ray, we draw connections between these historic events and their influence on the defining characteristics of millennials and Gen-Zers, such as higher percentages of liberals vs conservatives, high rates of depression and hopelessness, and an increase in ethnic diversity, and how these traits influence their activism. We also explain why cohort analysis is a useful tool for understanding generational differences, in conjunction with class, race, and gender. We hope to leave you with a deeper understanding of why young people in the US are the way that they are, and how our experiences really do define us.


Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/ucsbblumcenter/pwr-2-the-ppl-episode-2


Interested in learning more? Check out these relevant readings below:

The events that define the Millennial generation, Bizwomen, 2018

Generation Z: Who Are They and What Events Influenced Them? Robert Tanner, 2020

From Parkland to Sunrise: A Year of Extraordinary Youth Activism, The New Yorker, 2019

A Politician Called Her ‘Young and Naïve.’ Now She’s Striking Back, The New York Times, 2018

How Student Activism Could Potentially Impact American Politics, NPR Politics Podcast, 2018 

"A Student Should Have the Privilege of Just Being a Student": Student Activism as Labor, The Review of Higher Education, 2019

Patterns of Student Protest, Inside Higher Ed, 2019


In this episode, we focus our discussion on where youth activism takes place, focusing on activism and social movements that manifested on college campuses, since universities have historically been a huge center of action and calls for change. Through these case studies, we discuss the parallels between the anti-Vietnam war protests of the 1970s and the civil-rights era Ethnic Studies strikes, and the broader impacts these two student-led movements had on the university as an institution, and higher education as a whole. With our guest speaker, Dr. Cassie Barnhardt, Associate Professor of Education at the University of Iowa and expert in campus based-mobilization and how students/universities engage civically -- we talk about student mobilization tactics, how a movement builds momentum, and what the response of the university and surrounding community tends to be.


Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/ucsbblumcenter/pwr-2-the-ppl-episode-3a


Interested in learning more? Check out these relevant reading below:

LBJ Wants your GPA: The Vietnam Exam, The Harvard Crimson, 2016

50 years ago today, the shooting of 4 college students at Kent State changed America, CNN, 2020

Ethnic Studies: Born in the Bay Area from History's Biggest Student Strike, KQED, 2020

UC Berkeley Resource Hub: Third World Liberation Front & The History of Ethinic Studies, 2021


In part 2 of our discussion of college campus activism, we build upon our discussion of historical movements led by students and compare them to a contemporary example of activism that emerged at the UCs in early 2020. The Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) strikes that spread like wildfire across UC campuses were led by a number of graduate students who situated the movement within broader historical labor movements and radical campaigns, intersecting issues of class with racial justice, gender justice, and lgbtq+ rights. Through our own experiences with the strike at UCSB, and insight from Yulia Gilichinskaya, a founding organizer of the wildcat strike at UC Santa Cruz, we talk about the various tactics and strategies COLA protestors used to stay resilient in their fight.


Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/ucsbblumcenter/pwr-2-the-ppl-episode-3b


Interested in learning more? Check out these relevant readings below:

A brief history of Wildcat Strikes, Dana Frank, 2020

A COLA Factsheet, UCSB 4 COLA

We Deserve Roses Too: Why rejecting austerity connects all our struggles, UC Davis 4 COLA, 2020

Expansion of COLA during COVID: resources and information on Strike University

New Tactics, New Militancy, Inside Higher Education, 2020


In this episode, we take a deep dive into the ways in which young activists of color have been historically overlooked and erased from the forefront of social movements, despite the centrality of these issues to their everyday lives. We look into examples of BIPOC activists who started organizing at a young age and weren’t afforded the grace to simply enjoy their childhood, but instead had to battle issues that were a matter of life or death for their community. In our discussion, featuring Dr. Julia Jordan-Zachery Chair of the Africana Studies Department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte — and her daughter Makeenfounder of the blog and social media platform Black Girl Culture — we explored what “racial battle fatigue” looks like, how this burden impacts BIPOC activists’ mental health, and the importance of self care in the fight for justice.


Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/ucsbblumcenter/pwr-2-the-ppl-episode-4


Interested in learning more? Check out these relevant readings below:

Black Teens Have Been Fighting For Gun Reform For Years, Teen Vogue, 2018

Patrisse Cullors of Black Lives Matter Discusses The Movement, Teen Vogue, 2017

Julia Waddles, Where Were You When I Needed You: A Plea to the Non-Black People in My Life, Blk Girl Culture

Paul Gorski, Racial battle fatigue and activist burnout in racial justice activists of color at predominantly White colleges and universities, Race, Ethnicity, and Education, 2018.

Julia Jordan-Zachery, Shadow Bodies: Black Women, Ideology, Representation, and Politics, 2017


Podcast Launch Event

In May 2021, we launched the Power to the People podcast. During the event, we further examined the key themes from the first series, and extended the discussion to the pandemic's impact on youth activism and organizing. Yulia Gilich, a founding organizer of the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) movement, described how activist networks built on the COLA picket lines last year remained connected through online platforms, and have joined faculty of color to mobilize online around the Cops of Campus campaign. Professor Cassie Barnhardt, University of Iowa, underlined how the pandemic has pushed students to re-think the social contract between themselves and the University in terms of costs, what should be covered by those costs, and what the focus of learning should be. More broadly, Professor Alice O'Connor, UCSB, underlined how the pandemic has opened the door to think beyond conventional ideas and limitations, and consider policies that meet this historical moment.

The importance of youth centered platforms in uplifting voices pushed to the margins was also highlighted. Makeen Zachery, youth activist and founder of the digital platform, Blk Girl Culture, noted how not all online content resonates in the same way across different communities. She described trying to find a balance between providing information about critical topics (e.g. anti-Black racism), while not draining the community she is seeking to serve, Black women and girls. Professor Julia Jordan-Zachery, UNC-Charlotte, also underlined the importance of platforms that allow youth, and in particular young people of color, to center their voices and experiences, which are often pushed to the margins. Drawing on the example of Ida B. Wells' pioneering reporting on lynching in the late 19th and early 20th century, she underlined that  "if we didn't have that record, history could tell us anything it wanted to tell us." We are excited to contribute to a living archive of what today's generation of youth feels, thinks, and experiences related to issues of poverty, inequality, social justice, and democracy through Power to the People.

Series 1 Hosts

"Being a co-host on Power to the Ppl was such a fun experience overall, and I really loved it. I got to learn so much from the research we did prior to writing each episode, and from the wonderful experts who were guest speakers on the show. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to do this project with amazing, talented women of color, and be transparent about our own experiences as student activists. This podcast was a creative way for us to showcase the stories and experiences of this generation of leaders and changemakers, giving them a platform to express their vision of the future of our democracy."






Warsan Ali

Blum Student Assistant 

Bio-psychology, Undergraduate Student


"Being a lead/host on this podcast allowed me to use my voice in a new way. I consider myself to be a singer, teacher, activist, and writer, and I feel the podcast gave me a platform to combine all these facets of myself in one creative outlet. I got to speak to so many amazing scholars and activists, and being on a podcast team exclusively with other women of color was one of the favorite environments I've ever worked in. I think podcasts provide outlets of expression for many people of color, and can be a space for uncensored discussions about the things that we struggle with and enjoy. It is a really important tool in envisioning a multiracial democracy, in my mind."





Cloe Gentile

Blum Student Assistant (2019-20)

Musicology, Doctoral Candidate

"Podcasts can set people up with the knowledge and confidence to critically think about social issues and make informed decisions. I know that for me I feel nervous to assert my beliefs or opinions when I don’t think I have the full story. I hope that this podcast can help people feel that this knowledge is attainable. Being an agent of change means that you will always be learning and growing. This is the first step!"











Lizzy Mau

Blum Student Assistant (2019-20) 

Environmental Studies, Undergraduate Student


"Ironically, before working at the Blum Center I wasn’t a huge fan of podcasts because I felt they were a particularly difficult media on which to focus. I wasn’t swept up in the podcast craze like many of my friends, so my first thought was really: can I succeed at something I don’t understand? As I worked on our projects though and researched issues, I think I developed a particular appreciation for podcasts, because to make one seamlessly is to do a lot of work behind the scenes. I also thought: what makes my voice special enough to be a lead host? What do I have to say that is so important? And I think having this platform really made me consider my viewpoints as a young person and what I could contribute to the conversations being had around us. I think hosting a podcast, even for fun, is an enormous responsibility because you’re putting your voice out there for everyone to hear. I’ve found through working on Pwr 2 the Ppl that hosting a podcast is a very empowering feeling, just as much as it is a responsibility, like I previously said. There are so many choices you make when creating a podcast, from the topics you discuss, to who your guests are, to the stylistic choices like music and sound effects. I think in itself, podcasting represents our ideals about democracy and democratic practices—there are so many ways to make a podcast, just like there are so many ways to participate in a democracy, and often the nuances don’t become apparent to you until you take the first step and just do it. I hope that our podcast can be encouraging to youth, especially GenZ, to show them that their voices not only matter but should be amplified and a part of conversations bigger than themselves. I think I learned from this experience, and GenZ has also really shown us this on every platform from podcasting to TikTok, that any creative outlet can be a tool for democracy."





Simone Stewart

Blum Student Assistant 

Mechanical Engineering, Doctoral Candidate


** We'd also like to thank Yara Khamis, former Blum Student Assistant, who played a critical role in brainstorming, writing, and moving the podcast forward in its planning year (2019-2020), as well as Brenna McDuffee, Blum Student Assistant (2021), for her leadership on the podcast launch event.

This podcast was made possible, in part, thanks to funding from the University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement.

Historical Acknowledgement

We felt that it was important to note that the name of our podcast Power to the People may seem familiar to some of our listeners. The phrase, often used throughout popular culture, was first popularized in the 60s by the Black Panther Party--an organization founded by college students in 1966 in Oakland California, originally developed to fight for justice and provide aid in the underserved local black community.

In 1969 Emory Douglas, the Minister of Culture and resident artist of the movement, first made a graphic using the phrase: “All power to the people.” From this image, the term became a rallying cry of the organization and the Black Power Movement. Over time, the phrase has been used by many organizations and movements from pro-democracy student groups who protested the Vietnam War, to Anti-Apartheid struggles in South Africa, and was even the title of John Lennon’s famed 1971 hit.

Here at the Blum Center, we recognize and respect the origin of the phrase, as well as support movements--especially led by young people--that are geared towards affecting change and bringing about justice for all people. In a 2017 interview, Bobby Seale, one of the founding members of the Party noted regarding the statement that, “This was all power to the people...We was beyond just power to black people.” The Blum Center, and our podcast, strive to provide a platform for all people as we collaborate with a diverse variety of partners and communities to promote an inclusive democracy--one that would truly give power to the people.