Sofia Quint was watching TV on the couch with her parents when she saw Khizr Khan pull his copy of the Constitution out of his pocket during the Democratic National Convention.
"My parents had to fight very hard to receive the right to vote," Quint told Fusion. "They say that learning the Constitution was very important to them because all of us are different, and we all deserve equal protection under the law, as the 14th amendment states in the Constitution."
Quint is not old enough to vote — she’s just 13-years-old — but she still cares about this year’s presidential election. Her four best friends — Zacharia Walker, 13; Leena Sherdil, 13; Nicholas Morgan, 12; and Shan Lateef, 13 — do too. They're all kids of color and they're worried about what will happen to them and their families if Trump gets elected. Together they made a plan. Even if they couldn’t vote or contribute to a campaign, they could get their opinions out, by raising money and sending hundreds of copies of the Constitution to Trump Tower. They've already sent 250, with another 150 to follow soon after.
Their project, called Kids for the Constitution, isn’t the first attempt at sending copies of the Constitution to Trump’s offices. A woman named Jane Melvin started a Facebook page called “Send the U.S. Constitution to Trump,” encouraging its followers to put the Trump Tower as the shipping address on their orders. The American Civil Liberties Union sold out of pocket Constitutions like Khan’s last month, and a $1 pocket Constitution published by the National Center for Constitutional Studies (characterized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a fringe Mormon group) became an unlikely and controversial top seller on Amazon after reviewers noticed the edition's disclaimer suggests that "the United States is subject to a Christian God’s ruling" and "emphasizes that the federal government should not interfere in people’s lives," according to reporting by The Intercept.
But Kids for the Constitution is special, they say, because its run by middle schoolers.
“They are anxious about him getting elected,” said Babur Lateef, father of one the Kids for the Constitution, Shan Lateef. “Some of them worry if they will have to move or if they will be targeted because they are minorities.”
I called up the five kids behind Kids for the Constitution to talk about their backgrounds, their friendship, and their views on this year’s presidential election.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How did you get the idea for the Kids for the Constitution project?
Nicholas Morgan: We thought a lot of things Donald Trump has said have gone against the Constitution, so we wanted to send him some to make sure that he really did read the Constitution and understands what he is saying is against the Constitution.
Shan Lateef: And we also believe everyone should read the Constitution, and that is why we gave the leftover money to the National Archives.
What is an example of something the Trump campaign has said that stuck out to you as unconstitutional?
Leena Sherdil: He is saying that he wants to ban all the Muslims coming into the country.
Shan Lateef: Another thing he has said is that he wants to build a wall to block some of the Latinos coming in from South America, which is very unconstitutional, and we believe that it is wrong.
Is there any part of the Constitution that you think, when Donald Trump gets these copies, that you have sent him, he should really pay attention to when he's proposing policies?
Shan Lateef: We all love the part of the Constitution that supports equal protection under the law, and we think that's the most important part that Donald Trump should really pay attention to and address during his speeches rather than going against it.
Did you talk about the election or the Constitution while putting together those envelopes? Are these things you talk about in your friend group?
Zacharia Walker: Well the election is actually something that pops up very much in my friend circle, as we are constantly talking about how Donald Trump is kind of a racist. While we were packaging the envelopes, we were just having fun, saying stuff like "I hope he doesn't just ignore [the Constitution] and burn it and he might actually read it" and actually maybe we might bring it up to his attention.
Sofia Quint: We were worried, joking around that if this got to him, that we were gonna have to move out of the country, so we're really hoping that we get to stay here (laughs). My parents came from two different counties in South America, so I'm bilingual and I'm a first generation Hispanic-American.
Leena Sherdil: My parents come from two different backgrounds. My mom is from Morocco, and my dad is from Afghanistan. I'm also a Muslim, and I'm also a first-generation American.
Shan Lateef: My parents come from two different backgrounds also. My dad's family comes from Pakistan, and my mom immigrated here from India hoping for a better future.
Nicholas Morgan: My parents are both African-American, but my dad is also a bit Caribbean, and he serves in the military.
Zacharia Walker: My mom is from Iran, and my dad is from Virginia Beach. I was actually born in Iran too, but I came here when I was very little.
It's interesting to me that the election is something that you are concerned about and the issues that are coming up are things that you're thinking about even though you can't necessarily vote or contribute directly to a campaign. Why do you think this election is so important this year?
Nicholas Morgan: I realize that we're not allowed to vote, but what we can still do is that we can still try to make a difference by telling people, "Hey this is what is actually going on."
Zacharia Walker: What you're saying is all true. Even though we can't vote, everyone still has a voice. Like, everyone's voice can be heard and even though we're 13, we still found this great idea and look where we're at right now? This is the first step to getting heard.
What do you hope people who can vote in this election consider?
Nicholas Morgan: One of the things I really hope voters consider is his motto: "Make America Great Again." I thought America was already great. It is already great, and you're saying it's not great and we have to fix it.
Sofia Quint: We want a president that brings all the minorities and majorities together instead of trying to separate them.
Zacharia Walker: What I look for in a president is obviously leadership, and obviously knowing how to run a country. I don't think you run a country by blocking people out, racism, and he is just kind of embarrassing himself on live TV by saying these crazy or weird things, like you just don't do that, you have to know what to say, what not to say, and what to do. Voters shouldn't vote just to vote. They should actually know who they're voting for. Do they know what Trump wants to do? Do they actually agree with him? If they don't, then I think they should take the facts and be like, "Maybe I shouldn't vote because he just isn't the greatest leader for this country."
Sofia Quint: I believe that the reason America is great now is because a couple of kids like us can get along being so different and being raised so differently and still being able to be the best of friends. We represent what this country can be: different cultures and faiths working together being friends. We don't have to agree on everything, but we agree that this country is great, and that we can, and we will, make it better.