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Empowering Generation Z to Take Action

Xander poses with Representative Maxwell Frost (D-FL) and journalist Soledad O’Brien at the National Archives Museum in Washington, D.C.

On June 22, the National Archives Museum* in Washington, D.C., hosted an event called “Gen Z and Civic Engagement.” Journalist Soledad O'Brien asked Representative Maxwell Frost (D-FL) how members of Generation Z, individuals born between 1996 and 2011, can make their voices heard in the political arena.

Dr. Colleen Shogan, the Archivist of the United States, welcomed attendees. James J. Blanchard, a former U.S. Representative and Govenor of Michigan, delivered the opening remarks. Blanchard is now Chair and President of the National Archives Foundation.

The event was part of “Civic Season,” a new initiative designed to encourage youth involvement in democracy and government.


Located in Washington, D.C., the National Archives and Records Administration is an independent agency of the U.S. government. It preserves and displays historic documents.


Representative Frost, who is the first member of Generation Z to serve in the U.S. Congress, suggested inspiring young people to act rather than shaming non-participants. Drawing from his own experiences, he said that building relationships with colleagues who have differing viewpoints is one of the most effective ways to create a shared vision for the country. 

Adopted at birth, Frost was born to a mother of Lebanese and Argentine descent and a Haitian father. The Congressman addressed the challenges he faced growing up in Florida, where he aspired to a career in politics. No amount of planning could prepare him, he said, for the realities of governing. In response to an audience member’s question, he spoke about the importance of funding public education.

“People have been taking money away from public education, putting vouchers into private schools, and severely underfunding public education,” Frost said. “At the same time, we’ll call hearings and say, ‘[Students] are not doing well.’ Teacher retention isn’t good when teacher pay is horrible.” 

Frost added, “If we want programs to be successful, we must fund them, and we must fund them adequately. The budget shows where our priorities are. And we’re a country where we don’t prioritize public education enough.” 

Attendee Jose Perez, who founded a nonprofit organization, praised Representative Frost for his leadership. ”It’s inspiring to see him as a Generation Z person,” Perez said. “There’s a lot of us. We’re here for civic innovation.” 


* Editor’s note: The author’s mother is affilliated with the National Archives and Records Administration, an independent agency of the U.S. government that operates the museum. 

Top photo courtesy of the author; bottom photo ©: Patrick Donovan / Getty Images