Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Rep. Frost Urges Gen Z to Prioritize Activism Ahead of Nov. Elections

Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.), the first Generation Z (Gen Z) member of Congress, analyzed the upcoming 2024 elections, the role of youth in the progressive movement and his own experiences as an activist at a Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public Service (GU Politics) event hosted April 10.

Frost, who won a November 2022 election to represent Florida’s 10th congressional district — an area encompassing parts of Orlando and Central Florida — shared insight on his own experiences at the intersection of activism and political representation at the discussion, titled “From Power to Protest: Is it Gen Z’s Turn to Lead?” Wesley Lowery, a GU Politics Spring 2022 Fellow and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, moderated the conversation, followed by an audience question and answer section.

Frost, who is also the first Afro-Cuban member of Congress, said that while he recognizes the significance of being the first Gen Z member of Congress, that was neither a justifiable motivation to run for office nor something he considered throughout his campaign. 

“There are real positions that require passion to talk about and to work on versus just ambition to be the first to ever or to be a young person in the electorate,” Frost said at the event. “And that was never what it was about. I never talked about being the first Gen Z.” 

@GUPolitics/X | Representative Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.), the first Generation Z member of Congress, analyzed the role of organizing for the upcoming elections and gave advice to young people engaged in elections during an April 10 event titled “From Power to Protest: Is it Gen Z’s Turn to Lead?” hosted by GU Politics.

“All the parts of my identity are important to me. But I don’t walk into Congress and go, ‘Time to Gen Z it up. Give me that legislation. Let me Gen Z it.’ I’m not thinking that way. I’m coming as my 100 percent authentic self, but there’s a lot of parts of me that are even more valuable to the institution,” Frost added.

Gen Z designates people born between 1997 and 2012 – roughly 68 million Americans. As a young progressive, Frost began his career as an organizer and activist fighting against gun violence, work he continued after he survived a shooting in Orlando. He held leadership roles at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a nonprofit human rights organization, and served as the National Organizing Director for March for Our Lives, a student-led organization advocating for gun control legislation, before running for office in 2022.

Frost said he is concerned about the high stakes of the upcoming races in the 2024 election as the results of these elections will dictate policy on important political issues, such as abortion rights.

However, Frost said he remains confident that Democrats will win the presidential and key congressional elections, saying he believes Florida constituents will vote to codify abortion rights and legalize recreational marijuana use, both proposed amendments on the 2024 ballot.

“I am confident because, if we do what we need to do, if we do the work, I think we will take back the House of Representatives,” Frost said. “I think we will re-elect the president and reject Donald Trump for another term. And I think in the state of Florida, we will pass voting ballot issues and show people that our state is worth fighting for.” 

“And so, I feel optimistic with November, but I’m not one of those people that are going to just sit up here and talk about it; I’m going to be going to work,” Frost added.

Frost also spoke about the internal tension of grappling with his identity as both an activist and elected official, determining that the two are reconcilable. 

“I realized I was running to go into an institution that’s caused a lot of harm to people like myself, to people across the country and people around the world,” Frost said. “But I also recognize that we need people we trust in these positions.”

“And that’s part of the reason I decided to run: because I trust myself to advocate on the issues that I care about and that I know my constituents care about,” he added.

Frost said that the United States needs leaders from Gen Z who are passionate about issues they wish to effect change in, and willing to use grassroots activism to accomplish such change. 

“Gen Z’s a very entrepreneurial generation, like we create new things. There’s a million Gen Z voting groups and this and that and it’s all great,” Frost said at the event “But, oftentimes organizing isn’t about creating something new, but about joining forces with other people.”

“My fear is that I’ve met a lot of people in this work that are my age that I felt like are getting into it because they are very ambitious people, but not because they’re passionate about the specific issues,” Frost added.

Frost said young people interested in joining the progressive movement should be proud of their own path to encourage activism and create lasting progress.

“The top advice I’d give to everybody here, just for the longevity of our movement, is to have respect for all the different types of organizing,” Frost said. “I know for a fact that we have to use every tool in our toolbox.”

“So whatever you choose to do, be proud of it and know that it is important to the greater timeline of justice for our people and the world that we want,” he added.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Hoya

Your donation will support the student journalists of Georgetown University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Hoya

Comments (0)

All The Hoya Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *