Charlotte youth climate striker Mary Ellis Stevens was inspired to start weekly vigils outside the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center eight months ago after learning about 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. This Friday, she'll have Thunberg at her side.
The rally is scheduled from noon to 2 p.m., rain or shine, at the plaza outside the government center, at 600 E. Fourth St.
Stevens, a Myers Park High freshman, said she's been in touch with Thunberg on social media. On Wednesday, Thunberg messaged that she was coming to Charlotte.
"I was in the middle of biology yesterday and I got a DM from Greta on Twitter," Stevens told WFAE.
Thunberg wrote: "Hi, thank you so much for all you're doing. Are you planning on striking this Friday? Love, Greta."
"And I so I was overjoyed and I wrote back: 'I will definitely be striking. If you're in the area I'd love for you to join me. And she said, "Yes, that'd be great. Let's do it."
It will be the first time Stevens has met Thunberg.
The 16-year-old Thunberg has become the face of an international youth climate change movement. She began protesting outside the swedish Parliament in 2018, calling on leaders to step up efforts to deal with climate change. More recently, she has spoken to at global events, such as the recent United Nations Climate Summit.
Stevens, 14, has led a climate strike every Friday since February at the government center. Stevens said she began the protests after she learned about Thunberg's activities.
"I was doing a project on climate change I discovered one of her speeches and I was just so blown away by the way that she spoke so urgently about the issue," Stevens said. "And so I learned about her strikes and I decided that I wanted to bring those strikes to Charlotte."
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) November 7, 2019
Stevens is often the only person outside the government center on Fridays, with signs and posters about climate change. This Friday's strike is sure to be larger.
Stevens says Thunberg's rallies around the world often turn out thousands of people. She says several city and county elected officials have said they'll join the event.