Congressman Alcee Hastings recently met with one of his constituents, Elijah Manley, at his Congressional office, allowing the young aspiring politician a chance to experience the inner workings of the U.S. Congress.
By Charles Moseley
Typically, teenage boys are more interested in the latest video game to choose to play on their Play Station 3, rather than knowing the latest news on our nation’s political landscape, but Elijah Manley is not your typical teenager.
Over the past several years, the 16-year-old Fort Lauderdale High sophomore has not only studied the inner workings of government and the judicial system, he has actively participated in rallies to exercise his First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and voiced his opinion on issues impacting his community during commission meetings on the local level.
Manley recently had one of his dreams come true thanks to the Congressional staff of U.S. Congressman Alcee Hastings. Manley received a special treat during a visit to our nation’s Capital, one that he will not soon forget, thanks to Congressman Hastings. Hastings’ staff allowed Manley a chance to tour the United States Congress and observe real government in action.
“I was pleased to meet my constituent, Mr. Elijah Manley, during his visit to our nation’s capital. Elijah shared with me his interest in public service. I look forward to seeing him achieve his goals and wish him much success,” said Congress-man Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20).
Aside from his studies he is enrolled in the ROTC program at Fort Lauderdale High and plans to serve in the military as well as attend college before pursuing a career in government on the political level. Manley is also an active member of the 100 Black Men of Greater Fort Lauderdale’s Leadership Academy mentoring program.
Manley’s recent trip to Washington D.C. also afforded the native Floridian another opportunity to experience snow up close and personal and, according to him, upon arriving in D.C. at the end of a long road trip, “It was COLD!”
Manley agreed to share some of the highlights of his trip with the Westside Gazette, as well as offer his views on why he chose to not only read about government, but why he has become civically engaged on certain issues, as is the right of all citizens of the United States.
Westside Gazette (WG): When and why did you develop an interest on how our government works and also our judicial system in the United States?
Elijah Manley (EM): “I became interested in our government and judicial system when I learned that my mother was a victim of police brutality. President Obama’s election increased my involvement in the American Government System.”
WG: You have embraced taking up the cause for social justice particularly in regard to issues that impact young people in our society. Share some of your insights regarding that subject and some of your experiences as a youth advocate?
EM: “I think that, unfortunately, society does not respect youth voices and hear them equally as they do adult voices. I believe that youth should be represented in a serious manner, and be someone’s constituency. It is unfair to discriminate against youth. Crime rates are influenced by ageism, which is discrimination based on the sole factor of age. I believe in equality for all age groups, and that youth are important aspects of our community.”
WG: Why do you think it is important for young people as yourself to become active in their community?
EM: I believe that when there is youth voice included in any-thing, society will have an idea of what the youth population wants. If we abstain from being involved, not only will ageism increase, but adult figures will feel that they don’t need our voice. History has proven this to be true. It is also daily life, where youth are seen as “inferior” to older folks.”
WG: You recently traveled to Washington, D.C. and visited Capitol Hill. What motivated you to do so and what was that experience like?
EM: “Well I was originally going to DC to protest Benjamin Netanyahu and have more members of Congress skip his speech. But when I arrived, I had the chance to visit monuments, and speak to over 50 Congressmen and Congresswomen. I spoke about youth rights, expressed my concerns, and had a great few days. I spoke with Congressman Hastings, my representative. That was the best part. Meeting other activists that shared my values was delightful. I’ve learned a lot, and I am open to learning more. My activism is about to get real, and I need all the help I can get.”