Editor’s note: ELi youth reporter Alex Hosey filed this story with us before the City Council vacancies opened and Sasha Bacon’s father Ron Bacon applied for a seat on Council. Once we knew Ron was applying, we held the story because we did not want to give any one candidate more coverage than another. Ron has now been appointed to Council.
Sasha Bacon, East Lansing High School’s Class of 2020 Student Body President, describes herself as “very radical.” In a recent interview with ELi, she had a strong message about these times.
“In the midst of these pandemics of police brutality and incompetent government, I see my peers and myself growing more radical,” she said. “And I realized that as soon as COVID-19 is under control, the establishment is basically gonna pipe down and [say] that we’re too radical.”
On June 28th, Bacon gave a 90-second speech directed at her fellow 2020 graduates on Fox 47’s show “Press Pass With Jack Ebling.” The speech addressed how Bacon believes graduates should move forward with their lives post-quarantine after witnessing the paradigm shift that is shaking not only the United States, but many areas of the world.
“We live in a system and a culture that encourages us to only think about ourselves,” Bacon said in her speech. “Fight that powerful urge with the same dedication and solidarity to your fellow man that convinced you to quarantine and social distance… go out and create a community-wide family, a nation-wide family, and a global family. Together we can change everything.”
The television event aimed to highlight the valedictorians of local schools. Since East Lansing High School does not rank its students, East Lansing High School Principal Andy Wells thought it most appropriate to have the student body president give the speech.
Bacon’s words challenged the notion that cultural traditions and long-standing norms are unchangeable.
“When I got the chance to make a speech to my peers, I figured the most important thing I could say to them would be to not let anyone shut them up, and that they’re not silly for wanting more,” Bacon told ELi.
Bacon’s father, Ron Bacon – an East Lansing Football assistant coach – shared his thoughts on his daughter and her generation.
“It is an honor and a pleasure to be Sasha’s dad,” he said in an interview with ELi. “I am proud to have been chosen for such a special kid. She has grown in her sense of social responsibility and the need for greater representation and social justice. But I feel like she has always had an innate sense of fairness. It’s just a part of her spirit.”
Ron Bacon continued, “Her words in her speech were timely and true for this moment in history. I truly feel that 2020 and this class will be the disruption that the United States didn’t know that it needed so badly.
“I would say to the youth, that this is your time,” Ron Bacon said. “Don’t wait for permission nor an invitation. Simply get started wherever you are now. No person can be separated from the issues and challenges of their day. Today and everyday moving forward, begin building the world that you want future generations to inherit.”
Sasha Bacon plans to study electrical engineering at the University of Michigan this fall. Her dream is to pursue her passion of researching and developing sources of renewable energy and improving the environment for generations to come.
“Within my lifetime, I want to see an emissions-free, homelessness-free, joblessness-free, billionaire-free, and police-free country where everyone is granted a voice in the public sphere and in their workplace. They’re broad goals and I definitely can’t do it alone, but that would be my indication of a life well lived,” Sasha Bacon told ELi.