On Wednesday March 14, nearly one million students nationwide walked out of their classrooms not to only honor the 17 people who were killed last month in Parkland, Florida, but also to send a message directly to the folks on Capitol Hill – stricter guns laws are needed, and needed now.
Students throughout the nation could be seen carrying signs detailing their frustration with the high number of mass shootings in recent years, especially in classrooms. “I should be writing my college essay, not my will” read one sign. “I want to read books not eulogies,” read another.
Wednesday’s walkout was just the first of several protests students and activists are planning in an attempt to pressure the government to enact meaningful gun-control legislation.
On Saturday, March 24, people across the country will take part in the March for Our Lives. Over 18,000 people on the Boston March for Our Lives’ Facebook page said they plan on protesting that morning. And on April 20, another protest is planned to take place on the anniversary of the 1999 Columbine shooting.
At the helm of many of these protests are the high school students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – the students who witnessed firsthand the massacre that left 17 of their classmates and teachers dead.
We are at a pivotal moment in our nation’s discourse on gun control. We at The Gatepost applaud everyone involved in Wednesday’s protest but would like to specifically show our support for the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the #NeverAgain movement.
After the walkouts and marches, many people are responding with #WalkUp – a hashtag promoting the idea that students should walk up to fellow students if they notice they are isolated from the school community. This movement has been created in opposition to the activism school students have been engaging in since the shooting occurred.
Some adults are suggesting that if everyone were simply nice to each other, school shootings would stop happening.
What a burden to put on students.
We at The Gatepost see the #WalkUp movement as an attempt to tell students what type of activism is acceptable. We believe the #WalkUp movement undermines the hard work and incredible perseverance of the students who organized the rallies and marches around the country.
To those who wish to say high school students are “too young” to understand the political climate or too young to engage in a discussion about gun control, we suggest they look back on every monumental protest that has occurred in our nation’s history.
Activism is championed by those who wish to see change for their future and often are high school and college students. Students like the Freedom Riders who fought oppression with protests that captured the attention of the nation. Students such as those who vigilantly opposed the United State’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Political activism and protest has always been the cornerstone of change in America. Changes brought about by the courageous acts of young adults fighting for governmental and social reform.
This is one of those moments of change. The students organizing rallies, marching on Washington and demanding to discuss gun control – like generations past – are at the forefront of a movement that surely will make its way into the history books.
Faced with tragedy and great loss, these students are refusing to stand idly by and live in a country they feel is corrupt and broken.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez said, “We are grieving, we are furious, and we are using our words fiercely and desperately because that’s the only thing standing between us and this happening again.”