Everyday Activism: Taking Action in New York is a civil liberties-focused photo and story collection project spearheaded by the Teen Activist Project (TAP). TAP members engaged New Yorkers in conversations about civil rights and liberties, documenting the creativity, resilience, and activist spirit that they display daily on the streets, in their communities and beyond. Through this photo essay, they aim to highlight the everyday forms of activism that New Yorkers embody and give the wider public opportunities to become advocates in their own communities.  

'I'm generally very wary of banning books. It's much better to teach the rules of debate, discourse, and free thinking.' Seen reading Nikolai Gogol's Tales of Good and Evil at the Brooklyn Public Library

'Police officers abuse their power because of my race.' Seen in the school stairway, Brooklyn

'I believe very strongly in direct service. When I volunteered in women's health clinics, I saw the importance of making sure that people have access to information to make decisions about their body. I started really recognizing the importance of connecting service to the issues and knowing that the personal is political.' Seen canvassing at the Staten Island Ferry.

'Fighting apathy is important to have in our country right now. The youth vote has been declining. It's disheartening. We need to set an example for future generations.'Seen in the classroom, Queens

'America's lack of equal opportunity and our class system is deeply harmful. The mass incarceration of young men of color is to me the most pressing injustice.'Seen near Central Park

'We farmworkers have to work on weekdays, seven days a week, month after month. I'm hopeful that this bill will be passed, or else I wouldn't be here. The impossible is possible.' Seen lobbying for farmworkers' rights in Albany

This couple has been working on farms together for years. They are in their seventies, and came to Albany to fight for farmworkers' basic labor rights, including a day of rest. Their sign, which they held while at a vigil, says 'Si Se Puede!' Seen in Albany on Farmworker Justice Day.

They immigrated here from the Soviet Union 30 years ago. She is a scientist and writer, he a musician. They shared their interest in healthcare advocacy. They just wrote a letter to the president asking for better health insurance coverage. Seen in Prospect Park.

'It was tough for me. When I was crying to get people to accept me, I was wasting my time. Once I got out of the closet, it was fine. I was like, 'fuck it, I'm me.'' Seen in Albany at Equality and Justice Day.

'The way the laws are set up, many corporations deal with guns and drug trafficking, and when they do it, they get like a slap on the wrist. If they stop and frisk a minor and he has drugs on him, he would get hit with severe time.' Seen in Prospect Park.

'I constantly feel disempowered because of my social identities. I'm both Hispanic and white without any of the perks, just the stereotypes, because that's what is easiest… luckily, my parents instilled a strong sense of culture into my everyday life, and I understand the beautiful aspects of being [mixed].' Seen in Manhattan.

'The extent to which we're being spied on is upsetting. This is something Americans should be interested in.' Seen in Union Square.

'When Sonia Sotomayor was appointed to the Supreme Court, she was then the second Puerto Rican woman from the Bronx that was in the public limelight. That's when I started thinking… 'I don't have many role models that look like me who are in positions of power. How can I become a woman of color in power and help others do the same?'' Seen canvassing in the Financial District.

'America is the land of the free and the land of immigrants. I don't think there's a pure American breed. We all as a whole make up the American race, and that's really beautiful.' Seen in the school hallway, Flushing, Queens.

'We filmed a video about stop and frisk. At first I didn't care about it or know my rights, but then I realized I had the same chance of being stopped and frisked as anyone else.' Seen at the Brooklyn Public Library.

She's holding a raw egg and has been caring for it for weeks. It's part of her high school health class' reproductive health and pregnancy unit. 'This class is important because many parents don't talk to their kids about personal health issues.' Seen in Brooklyn

'I was the valedictorian of my high school, but because I didn't have a Social Security number, I couldn't apply for financial aid or scholarships, or go to my preferred colleges. A lot of young people don't realize they're undocumented until they're graduating from High School. It was pretty much the same for me.'  Seen in Jackson Heights.

'I'm here to pass GENDA. We need transgender rights.' Seen in Albany at Equality and Justice Day.

'We need world class educational facilities for all students, regardless of their race, income, or ethnicity.' Seen in the classroom, Brooklyn.

She was bullied in school for being a Black Muslim – for wearing a headscarf, and for her name. She turned that experience into an opportunity to help and advocate for others, and founded her school's Gay-Straight Alliance. Seen at a summit on youth activism near Bryant Park.

'Being a strong, outgoing woman was always something so natural to me, so when I found out that that's not how I am supposed to be… Well, duh, of course I am going to be a feminist!' Seen at the Brooklyn Museum.

'At 3am, I got out of the lab and saw a couple of police officers around my bike. I thought the police were looking out for me, but instead they searched my bike to make sure it was mine. They didn't even believe I have a PhD and worked in the lab.'  Seen in Harlem.

'LABELS place a lot of pressure on teenagers, especially me. I'm part of the LGBTQ community and feel that society limits teens' individuality by forcing them into categories.'  Seen  in Brooklyn.

'Many students feel that walking into a school flooded with police officers is normal. I see that as oppression.' Seen at a youth summit near Bryant Park.

'I was working for this restaurant, and they stuck me in the back of the house instead of the front of the house because I was a woman. I quit.' Seen in City Hall Park.

'My friend is in a relationship with this chick and is afraid to come out because my parents are mad religious. They will totally skin her, and crucify her, and shit. It's terrible that gay marriage is frowned upon by society, especially by some parents. It's mad controversial to mix religion with gay marriage, but c'mon.' Seen along the D train line.

 

Stay informed

The New York Civil Liberties Union is a state affiliate of the ACLU

Learn more about ACLU National