Frank Velez, a New Jersey high school student writing at The Hechinger Report, talks about youth leadership on fighting gun violence:
The children of America aren’t going to wait any longer for the country’s adults to lead. That is my conviction and it keeps me going in this fight for a better and safer world, for all students, teachers and administrators. That is why here at Belleville High School, we’re determined to take the lead as students walk out of school March 14 to protest gun violence. I started both a Facebook and an Instagram page for everyone here at my high school and my state, New Jersey, as a whole. I’ve contacted and coordinated with multiple other students across this great state and nation who have put their foot down on mass murder. We want to make it clear that the time for inaction and abdication is no longer.
Students around the country will walk out of their classrooms at 10:00AM today, in solidarity with the young people at Parkland High School, who are memorializing the month that has passed since 17 people were murdered at their school in Florida. Many educators and schools are supporting the walkouts:
US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visited Parkland last week. Isabel Fattal of The Atlantic explains why that visit didn't go so well:
DeVos’s visit itself didn’t do much to turn things around. According to a Department of Education press release, she “met with students, teachers, and administrators” and designed the trip based on recommendations from the school principal over how to minimize disruption for the students’ first full day back at school. But after the event, both students and teachers criticized the education secretary for not engaging one-on-one with enough of them and for failing to answer all of their questions, particularly about her plans for preventing future school shootings. Journalists also reported that DeVos abruptly ended her press conference following the visit, after answering just a handful of inquiries.
Fattal continues, contrasting the dueling roles that a Secretary of Education must play after a shooting: offering comfort to a grieving community, on the one hand, and representing the gun policy of her administration, on the other hand. While Fattal wonders if the particular antipathy towards this administration is driving the current outrage in Parkland, I suspect that the situation is more generational than partisan. The young people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas were raised on digital organizing and have experienced school shootings of increasing severity throughout their childhoods. That's not a partisan issue, that's about life and death.
Mónica Córdova of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy wants to find new ways to support youth activism and leadership:
For generations, youth of color have sparked movements igniting a fight for safe, healthy and just schools and communities. Often they’ve waged long-term campaigns against great odds as they watch their schools become more like prisons than environments that foster growth and learning ... Youth-led organizations across the country are demanding to be heard and student leaders from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are inspired, working toward a platform that is shared across race, class, gender and geography. It is philanthropy’s turn to grab hold of the opportunity before us and advance the movement for a multiracial, cross-class alliance of young people standing up to demand a society free from all forms of violence.
Amen. In particular, it's important to remember that most of the students in the United States that experience gun violence on a day-to-day basis are young people of color. Their experience with daily gun violence does not grab headlines, like the mass shootings that dominate news coverage for days on end. But their stories and experiences are the linchpin of this fight, and we must put their leadership at the center of efforts to curb gun violence.
Finally today, the BBC covered a powerful installation at the US Capitol, which calls attention to how many children are killed with guns every year:
Have a powerful day.