Remember this name: Marquis Govan.
The 11-year-old Ferguson, Missouri boy made national news when he appeared on a segment of CBS Sunday Morning after giving a powerful 2-minute speech to the local county council about the civil unrest in the city.
During his eloquent address, Marquis explained, “The people of Ferguson don’t need tear gas, they need jobs. The people of Ferguson don’t need to be hit with batons, what they need is people to be investing in their businesses. We don’t need all these rubber bullets being shot at us, what we need is better living and housing conditions.”
In just a few short minutes, Marquis summed up the problems facing his community, including persistent segregation, high rates of unemployment, and inadequate schools. Marquis left the entire council stunned, but his passion for politics and his community isn’t just a passing fad.
In the CBS interview with Jane Pauley, Marquis talked about being placed into foster care when he was born, being raised by his elderly great-grandmother, and growing to love politics. While most kids his age are watching cartoons or out playing sports, Marquis devours cable news, reads books, and keeps up with both local and national politics. Before addressing the city council in August he’d been attending meetings for months.
Marquis’ great-grandmother fostered his love of politics by taking him with her whenever she went to vote. Soon, he wanted to know more about the people on the ballot.
“My grandmother always had the news on. We always watched funny shows. And I mean, everybody was talking about it,” he told NPR. “At points, I would stop by political shows, like, ‘What in the world are they talking about?’ And I started getting it.”
Marquis’ love of politics has grown into something more: ambition. Marquis says he wants to be in Congress one day, but not just as a member, a leader.
“I want to be one of those leaders like Nancy Pelosi,” he said. “But sometimes I don’t necessarily agree with her politically. I want to be a leader like her, except I want to be this new wing. I want to lead all the conservative Democrats and moderates who are sometimes left out of their party, saying they’re party-switchers. They’re not party-switchers. They’re compromisers.”
While everyone from President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, to local leaders are looking for solutions to fix Ferguson, and other cities around the nation, I suggest they listen to young people Marquis.
Because if this young man is any indication of the youth leaders to come, our future will be in great hands.