On March 14, 2018, students walked out of class for 17 minutes in honor of the 17 students who were killed in the Parkland school shooting on February 14, 2018. Students of all ages took a stand to walk out of class to demand Congress to “Ban assault weapons, require universal background checks for gun sales, and pass a gun violence restraining order law that would allow courts to disarm people who display warning signs of violent behavior” (CNN). Survivors from the Parkland shooting gave speeches and pressed lawmakers about gun control laws. However, they were not alone. Thousands of students across the nation walked out in honor of the students at Parkland and to stand up for their safety at school and what they believe is right. Then, on March 24, 2018, students led March for Our Lives, fighting for tighter gun control. The main march was in Washington D.C. However, 800 marches broke out in various cities worldwide. As Daily Show Trevor Noah states, “If kids are old enough to be shot, they’re old enough to have an opinion about being shot” (Noah, Daily Show).
Among the students in the United States who walked out of class and participated in the march was a sixth grader from Pennsylvania, Mia Arrington. She challenged her peers and adults in society to be introspective and ask themselves: Am I willing to step out and have a voice about what is right? After her experience from the walk out, she wrote, “Everyone talks about how much we want to change the world, but we don’t want to take the first step: Changing ourselves… People around us don’t have to support us, but those who choose to support us will speak their minds with us. I can tell you one thing, I will walk with you. Literally and metaphorically. I will walk with you, and I’ll do it proudly” (Arrington, 3-14-2018). Students across the United States are responding similarly to Arrington. Students are grieved, angry, and impatient about the lack of change happening in gun rights and their continual lack of safety at school. The “Safe Place” signs posted on school grounds no longer have any meaning because students recognize that the possibility of being shot at school is something to fear. Young students are mourning the dead and fighting for the living. They are relentlessly fighting for change in hopes to find safety.
There have been many times throughout history where students have stepped out to voice a need for change. Students have often been at the core of social justice moments in America. Students have been active in resistance during the Depression era, Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, the anti-Apartheid movement in the 80s, global warming activism, antiwar activism in 2006, Black Lives Matter Movement, and now the March for Our Lives in 2018 in response to the increase in school shootings (CNN). The young generations are not giving up on resisting and fighting for their rights. Student resistance is a part of what produces change in America. Scholar Mark Borem defines student resistance in this way: “More than anything, the history of student resistance is a history of power relations. Students band together to try to generate enough force to overcome the forces of their oppression” (Borem, pg. 6). That’s what students are doing. They are banding together, arm-in-arm, to overcome the forces of danger that surround them and the oppression that comes through a lack of action from the leaders above them. They are resisting what has become normal in America through joining together in saying “ENOUGH” (CNN)! The bravery, focus, and persistence that students are displaying to see the gun laws change is something that cannot be unheard by leaders of the nation. The young voices must be listened to.
Joseph, P. We Wouldn’t Be America without Student Activists: https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/21/opinions/florida-students-long-activist-tradition-joseph-opinion/index.html
Encyclopedia, Student Activism: https://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Student+activism
Waxman, O. B. Students Calling for Gun Control Can’t Vote Yet. But Age Hasn’t Stopped Young Activists in the Past: http://time.com/5166976/florida-school-shooting-young-protesters/
Andone, D. What you need to know about the national school walkout: https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/11/us/national-school-walkout-march-14/index.html
Boren, M. E. Student Resistance: A History of the Unruly Subject. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2001.
Arrington, M. Personal Social Media Post. 18 March 2018.
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