On February 14th, our nation suffered another tragedy after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida took the lives of 17 students. As both students, Americans, and citizens of the world, we have a responsibility to honor the legacy of our peers and demand action be taken by those in power to make the tragedy in Parkland the last school shooting in our country.
Students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where the shooting took place, are planning National School Walkouts with the Women’s March Organization to send a message to our government: something needs to change. The event will take place on March 14– the one month anniversary of the Parkland shooting–and will last 17 minutes, to honor the 17 lives that were lost in the shooting. It is scheduled to start at 10 am.
What happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS could happen at our high school or any other school in the country. In the first 69 days of 2018, eight major mass shootings have occurred at schools. This averages to about one every week. Congress’s inability to effectively address the epidemic of school shootings has cost our nation too many young, innocent lives. Regardless of political partisanship, we agree that the government must take immediate action to pass legislation that protects our schools and our students from this senseless violence.
For too long has partisanship impeded our progress as a country. Our legislators are acting like children and refusing to compromise or even listen to the other side; it is costing us our lives. Students should not have to risk their lives when going to school. This needs to end.
History has shown us that change will not happen until someone stands up and demands that it does. We are putting in the work, and following in the footsteps of the great activist movements before us: the Civil Rights’ Movement, the Stonewall Riots, the Suffragette Movement, the Chicano Blowouts of the 1960s. History has its eyes on us.
We hope to inspire our peers to use the very tools of democracy we learn about in the classroom to create tangible results and demonstrate to us that, even as young people, we have the power change the world for the better.
As Lin Manuel Miranda so beautifully put it, this is not a moment; it is the movement. Our movement will not end after March 14. We will not be silent until this issue has been corrected. We will be marching on March 24, voting on June 5 and November 6; and, above all, advocating for change.
We are no longer satisfied with simply sitting in our desks, learning about our rights and freedoms– now we plan to use them. We are no longer satisfied with the wave of “thoughts and prayers” that follow in the wake of each preventable tragedy– now we demand action.
We are not the leaders of tomorrow–we are the leaders of today, and we hope you will join us in our fight to create a better, safer future for students and all of the United States of America.
Kate Finman and Olivia Fu are seniors at San Juan Hills High School. They both grew up in Southern California and have cared about politics for as long as they can remember. They are interns on a Congressional campaign and love being activists. Kate and Olivia are the students organizing the National Student Walkout for their school, as well as a register to vote campaign and candidate forum.
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