Our students are taking action now
Sit-ins, walkouts, lie-ins, anti-violence rallies — students are arming themselves, not with weapons, but with information and determination as they attack the political establishment.
Older generations have blown it. They have failed to enact legislation to help prevent school violence. They have failed to appropriate money for the kinds of resources needed to help prevent murders masquerading as school shootings on U.S. campuses.
Don’t trust anyone over 30 was one mantra from the 1960s where sit-ins, demonstrations and protest rallies blossomed. At least five decades have passed since young people resolved to change America. They protested Vietnam, advocated for environmental protection laws, supported lowering the voting age to 18, advocated for women’s rights and fought the draft.
Also reflective of the 1960s’ mass movements, young people united to change the world by ending social injustice, racism and police brutality.
Come suddenly to center stage are two outspoken high school students from Parkland, Florida, with demands of their own.
Suddenly in the spotlight are Emma Gonzalez, 18, and Cameron Kasky, 17, followed by others in Florida and a growing chorus of voices across the U.S. The original pair emerged from the Valentine’s Day shootings frightened, angry and motivated to take on a cause they see as lost to the political world. Sounding more like seasoned public speakers than high school students still coming to terms with the violence that killed 17 students and adults and injured others, Gonzalez and Kasky are taking on the establishment. And they’re organizing others across the nation to join the movement “Never Again!”
Twenty-one Quincy High School students accepted the consequences of detention as they marched to the courthouse steps to add their voices of support Feb. 21. “We need to raise our voices about the desensitization toward violence in our society. People are being shot every day and America doesn’t even notice anymore. That’s wrong!” said QHS junior Emma Thompson.
According to the Washington Post, analysis has found that more than 150,000 students attending at least 170 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. And while politicians bicker and special interest groups throw money to ensure particular outcomes, students are taking matters into their own hands. They’re advocating immediate change. Not tomorrow, not in a year or five, but immediately.
It’s refreshing, it’s stirring, it’s right to see and hear these young people advocating for something as important as safe schools.
Students don’t need to hear about thoughts and prayers from the President and politicians, Gonzalez told a crowd two days after the campus shooting at her high school, “… it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see.”
While one Pennsylvania politician claimed that Gonzalez and Kasky are allegedly actors not students, many others, including actor George Clooney and his wife Amal, donated $500,000 to support Parkland students’ trip to Washington, D.C. Oprah Winfrey matched that contribution, and Director Steven Spielberg and others are adding funds to support the movement.
Commentator Anderson Cooper’s 360 CNN program organized a town hall meeting where students, parents, teachers, the Broward County Sheriff and at least three of Florida’s political figures could voice their concerns and answer questions. “I was born into a world where I never got to experience safety and peace,” said one student. That’s simply heartbreaking.
Some dynamic changes took place resulting from the sit-ins and protests during the 1960s. Young people are once again taking to the streets, picking up the microphone and rallying to change what’s terribly wrong in this country.