In early February 2018, one of the deadliest school shootings in modern American history took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Within 6 minutes, a semi-automatic weapon (AR-15 rifle), was used to kill 17 students. As the perpetrator sprayed unrelenting bullets at classrooms filled with kids, teachers, and students packed into closets hoping to make it out of school alive. Eventually, police in military-style gear ushered them out of their classrooms with their hands above their heads.
Pushing through the heartache of trauma and lost lives, students across the country took action to urge lawmakers to rethink their positions on gun control. The student survivors made their way to the state capitol in Florida to call for an assault weapons ban. Their direct appeal to the Florida State House and Legislation comes after many protests outside schools, national television appearances, and social media initiatives. From Florida to California, teenagers walked out of classes, stopped traffic and made provocative speeches calling out lawmakers and their elders for inaction.
In countless interviews and at as many rallies and protests possible, student survivors have expressed their opinions efficiently that adults have failed to protect them and that politics should never inhibit their safety.
While also organizing trips to the state capitol and other rallies, students around the country are continuing to create assemblies to get their voices heard. On March 14, the students (in cooperation with help from associate groups of the Women’s March) are organizing a memorial for those who died. The plan is for students to walk out of class for a full 17 minutes– one minute per student and faculty that passed.
Ten days after the walkout, a “March for Our Lives” is planned for Washington, D.C. Students from the targeted high school announced that they would march on Washington to demand action on gun control.
Beyond that, the students are also in the process of planning a nationwide walkout for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre that left 15 deceased in Littleton, Colorado. More than 60,000 people have pledged to walk out of classrooms that day on a Change.org petition.
The students hope that the march will transcend politics and create a ripple effect to real change.
“People are saying that it’s not the time to talk about gun control. And we can respect that,” said one 11th grader from Parkland’s high school. “Here’s a time: March 24 in every single city. We are going to be marching together as students begging for our lives.”