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High School heroes: The new generation of activists

by The Stylus
Tue, Mar 27th 2018 09:00 pm
Activism and protests are usually reserved for adults. High schoolers, however,  have taken to representing themselves through their very own activism and making their own voices heard on gun control issues.
Elliott LaPoint/EDITORIAL CARTOONIST Activism and protests are usually reserved for adults. High schoolers, however, have taken to representing themselves through their very own activism and making their own voices heard on gun control issues.

When you think of high school, what do you think of? Football games? Prom? Skipping study hall and hanging out with your friends in the cafeteria? For us college students, we probably reminisce about the good times we had a litle too often, but for so many who actually walk within those halls today, they walk them in fear. 

Just over a month ago, a senseless mass shooting killed 17 people in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School located in Parkland, Florida. As Stoneman Douglas student and gun control activist Emma Gonzalez said at the March for Our Lives in Washington, it was a day no one who was in that school will ever forget; no one will ever be the same. Thirteen kids between the ages of 14 and 18 were murdered. An athletic director was murdered. A football coach was murdered. A geography teacher was murdered. 

And in response? Marco Rubio looked Stoneman Douglas student and gun control activist David Hogg in the eye and told him that he would continue to receive donations from the National Rifle Association (NRA), the gun lobbyist group that has prevented federal research on gun violence. 

According to The Los Angeles Times, the “NRA goaded Congress in 1996 into stripping the injury center’s funding for gun violence research — $2.6 million. Congress then passed a measure drafted by then-Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.), forbidding the Center for Disease Control to spend funds ‘to advocate or promote gun control.’” 

It is more than clear that the NRA is only out for itself and its beloved followers. If the NRA had nothing to hide or worry about, why would it do everything it can to prevent research? If gun violence is not a serious issue, why not let the CDC do its thing? Oh, right … because then it would prove the NRA wrong, and prove all of these Parkland, Florida, students right.

Unlike those before us, students have decided to start marching and fighting for their lives. Where were the parents and adults in December 2012 after 20 children between the ages of 6- and 7-years-old and six faculty members were murdered at Sandy Hook? They didn’t organize a march for us then. Even now, six years later, it’s up to the children to generate the thousands of Marches for Our Lives that happened across the country on March 24. 

When we think about activism or enacting change, we tend to think of children as being excluded. Their roles in politics and activism are usually extremely limited. The only time you are likely to hear anything about children in activism is a fluff piece about some child at a rally or parade holding up a sign that their parent no doubt helped them make. But now, a large group of America’s youth have taken activism by storm in a display of desire for change and steadfast displeasure with the status quo. These high schoolers have united themselves an unstoppable an unstoppable movement to change the gun control laws in America and the way that we talk about gun control legislation

This is what led to the creation of the “March for Our Lives” movement that has resulted in marches and walkouts bearing the name to make America aware of the need for better gun control.

Some people seem to think that a movement by high schoolers has no place in the public eye. After all, what do the citizens who can’t even vote have to contribute to a complex discussion like gun control in America? Rather, these very high schoolers are proving them wrong as they call upon each other, and all Americans, to register to vote when they’re able to, urging us all to utilize that right to put people in office who won’t choose money over our lives (like Rubio).

The fact that March for Our Lives became not only a national but international movement proves that these high schoolers aren’t messing around. They are intelligent, informed, and invested in real change. Not to mention extremely brave. To take on a Florida senator, to march on Washington and beyond, these students have put in the effort and courage they need to make this movement successful, and more than proving they are worth our genuine attention, and our admiration.

So where does that leave people like us? The college students? Not full-grown adults quite yet, but certainly no longer children. What variable are we in this equation of gun control politics, or politics in general for that matter? 

For one, it could be us. It could be any American. Shootings don’t just happen in high schools and elementary schools, they happen in movie theaters, churches, colleges. But aside from that, as people who were just in high school within the past five years, we should know what this feels like. And we should know they need our support both in attendance of events and at the polls. What must it feel like to be 15, scared for your future but unable to vote to change it? We are the votes they need. We have the power that holds the most sway over our government and one that many of those brave high school students do not have. The 2018 midterm elections are coming on Tuesday, November 6. 

As people who have more social and academic sources, it is our duty to be out there marching and advocating for a better world so that these kids can have the opportunity to go to school, as worry free as possible, just worrying about things that kids should be worrying about. 

When it comes down to it, there is a lesson at the heart of this. Never underestimate the young, because what they lack in experience, they more than make up for in passion, they make up for standing up for what they believe in. When you think you have them figured out, they surprise you. We may have been around the block a few times, but they are going to smash that block into a thousand tiny pieces in the blink of an eye and have already began to do so. And we need to be right next to them as they continue shape history.

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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