I am inspired and encouraged by the young people who are currently speaking out against gun violence.
Their efforts to organize and protest in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida give me hope for a brighter future.
Their efforts also remind me that young people (students and teens) have been a vital part of social justice movements — perhaps most notably, the civil rights movement; but also the revolt against the Vietnam War and the international fight against racial apartheid in South Africa; and most recently, the struggle against mass incarceration, the effort to end human trafficking, and the battle for immigration reform).
Like those before them, the young people who are part of the #NeverAgain movement are not afraid to call America to a higher national standard via civic participation and political action.
These young people are a shining example of what patriotism is all about. I applaud their steadfast determination to bring an end to gun violence, particularly in schools.
My faith in democracy has been reaffirmed by the young #NeverAgain activists, including:
Seventeen-year-old Cameron Kasky who said “we are on the cusp of our adulthood and ready to knock out the people who are not with us,” reminding politicians that he and his classmates will be old enough to vote in the 2020 election.
Eighteen-year-old Emma Gonzalez who said “we have to be the people calling for change, demanding change,” rallying her peers to focus on the removal of politicians who refuse to support stricter gun regulations.
Seventeen-year-old Florence Yared, who did not mince words when she said “To Congress, you are directly responsible for every community that has lost people to gun violence. You have the power to change this and if you don’t, we will change you. We will vote you out.”
Seventeen-year-old David Hogg, who said “now that you’ve had an entire generation of kids growing up around mass shootings, and the fact that they’re starting to be able to vote, explains how we’re going to have this change. Kids are not going to accept this,” telling politicians that his generation will use its growing electoral influence to affect gun reform.
Let us never forget that youth are agents of social change. Our history tells us that we should not be surprised by their activism, but we should be impressed by their fortitude in advocating for what they believe is right.
The question is: Do we have the courage to stand with them?