Jamie Margolin is an American activist and student who first became famous when she was a teenager and started the climate-change-fighting group Zero Hour. Margolin devoted herself to various political and social causes from the time she was young, and fighting climate change became one of her main focuses as a teenager. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Margolin has also taken part in LGBTQ+ advocacy.
Early Life and Advocacy
Jamie Margolin was born on December 10, 2001, in Seattle, Washington. Margolin’s mother is an immigrant from Colombia, so Margolin grew up celebrating various cultures and learning about different ways of life. These experiences influenced her and her political beliefs, and her family encouraged her interest in politics from a young age. When Margolin was fourteen years old, the United States was in the middle of a campaign for a presidential election. Margolin volunteered at the Democratic Party headquarters for the election in the hopes of helping Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton win the election. Margolin had strong opinions about the best candidate for the presidential race and published an editorial in the Seattle Times detailing her beliefs. Even though Margolin was too young to vote in the 2016 election, she wanted to express her beliefs and be involved in the civic process.
Focusing on Climate Change
Clinton, the candidate whom Margolin favored in the presidential race, lost the 2016 presidential election, and Margolin disagreed with many policies of the new Donald Trump administration. She especially disagreed with his administration’s policies regarding climate change. Trump opted out of the Paris Agreement, an international treaty that would have limited the greenhouse gas emissions that the United States could create. Margolin was alarmed by the potential effects of climate change and wanted to do something to bring more attention to the issue. In 2017, Margolin attended a summer program at Princeton University where she met other young people interested in politics and public policy. She began conversations with many of these young people. They talked about the actions that they could take to help stop the effects of climate change.
When Margolin returned home after the program, she continued to talk to young people, primarily through social media. She connected with Nadia Nazar, another young activist who wanted to tackle climate change. Together, they decided to create an organization that would focus on preventing climate change and its effects. They created Zero Hour with other activists and discussed ending climate change with young people around the country and world. They planned a march in Washington, DC, to raise awareness and get more people involved in the fight against climate change. Zero Hour held the march in July 2018. During the week of the march, Margolin and other members of the group met with elected officials to discuss policies that the United States could implement to help curb climate change.
The following year, Margolin and other members of Zero Hour sued Washington State governor Jay Inslee, claiming that his administration’s policies did not do enough to protect the environment. The youths claimed that Inslee and other politicians were endangering their future by not aggressively trying to stop climate change. That same year, Margolin testified in front of Congress, where she again asked leaders to take aggressive steps toward stopping climate change so that she and other young people would face fewer problems in the future. Margolin and other members of Zero Hour also encouraged young people to vote, talked to various elected officials, and used social media to spread their messages.
Changes in Activism
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic affected the United States and the rest of the world. Businesses and organizations shut down or significantly changed how they did business to prevent the spread of the disease. Therefore, Margolin and other members of Zero Hour had to change some of their organizing tactics. Instead of meeting in person for massive marches, members of the organization used social media and video communication to discuss the issues that mattered to them. Margolin and other activists also talked to traditional media outlets and wrote editorials to express their concerns about climate change. Margolin wrote an editorial during the pandemic reminding readers that, even while they were dealing with the immediate crisis of COVID-19, they should also be addressing the ongoing crisis of climate change.
In the spring of 2020, Margolin graduated from Holy Names Academy, a high school in Spokane, Washington, where she had led a national organization and helped inspire thousands of other activists. Later that year, Margolin enrolled at New York University, where she studied film. As a college student, Margolin still cared about Zero Hour and climate change but also expanded her activism. She began advocating for the Green New Deal, a proposed set of laws that would limit greenhouse gas emissions and create jobs in the United States. Margolin also is involved in LGBTQ+ activism and a is member of the LGBTQ+ community.