Teens of expression

Meet five Columbia youths: a break-dancer, an actress, a musician, a writer and a blogger
Saturday, August 4, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:36 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008
Taylor Zakrewski (left) and Alex Ross (center) and Nick Rodriguez (right) perform for other teens at a Teen Speak event held at the Columbia Public Library on June 27,2007.

COLUMBIA-Americans of every generation have to discover who they are and what they stand for. Coming to grips with their own reality and finding their place is a recurring rite of passage. Expression, in all of its forms, has been the means individuals have used so that they might define their time, instead of letting their time define them.

On June 27, Columbia’s Human Rights Commission held its fourth annual Teen Speak, which brings teens together to showcase their interests, beliefs and passions with older members of the community. The event at the Columbia Public Library drew about 40 people, half of them teens. We met and followed five of them to find out more.

Though times have changed, the inborn desire of America’s youth to express themselves freely and fully has not. Whether it is expression for the sake of expression or advocacy for some greater good, for these Columbia teens, free expression is vital not only for society’s well-being but for their own.

Jade Li

'You can say
anything on
the Internet
because no
one knows
who you are.'

Tim Douglas

'I write so I
can say
I feel.'

Marcus Miller

'Most people
don't genuinely
because they're
afraid to.'


'A few weeks
ago I nailed
some boards
together and
painted a
mural in my

Nick Rodriguez

'I don't know
what it's like to

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