Parkland survivors: changing headlines, leading the way

Megan Lafond, Staff Writer

After the rise of youth activism in Washington, D.C. and cities across the country, it is clear that the time for change is now.

Movements such as #MeToo, Times Up, and #NeverAgain have evoked a spirit of activism throughout this year. After the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., media audiences probably would have expected to hear the voices of parents and teachers speaking up and fighting for change. This year, the students of Parkland took control of the situation. Just moments after the tragedy occurred, students were found speaking to the reporters at the scene and answering questions with more composure and intelligence than most adults could have ever anticipate.

At the forefront of this movement is Parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez, a relentless teen who doesn’t seem to be anywhere near backing down..

“Kids these days seem to be the only ones who notice and who call BS,” Gonzalez said. “Companies are trying to make caricatures of the teenagers nowadays, saying that all we are are self-involved and trend-obsessed, and they hush us into submission when our message doesn’t reach the ears of the nation. We are prepared to call BS!”

Gonzalez is setting the new norm for youth in activism. She has risen to prominence faster than nearly any young adult or adult before her, and has the “ears of the nation” listening to her every word.

Since the shooting, which occurred on Feb. 14th, Gonzalez and many other students from Parkland have caught the attention of news sources such as CNN, The New York Times, NBC and many more. In the six short weeks since the shooting, Parkland students have visited the White House and spoke to President Donald Trump, questioned policy makers like Marco Rubio on live television, and led the March for Our Lives rally.

To us, these six weeks may have gone by fast as we live our lives under the University bubble and process daily news of violence quicker than we probably should. But to these Parkland survivors, these weeks have been nonstop limelight, hurt, pain, and at times, hope.

I believe that their strength comes not only from their drive for change and the overwhelming support they have received, it also stems from their education.

These children have spoken in front of millions on stages and on television screens and nothing seems to faze their momentum. From just the short quote above, Gonzalez used powerful word choice to convey a message to any and all people listening. The phrase “trying to make caricatures out of teenagers” can catch anyone’s attention.

Gonzalez is changing the norms for how the “average teenager” can act and respond to a tragedy: responding with intellectual and complex ideas, not silence and tears. That is exactly what this country needs to see. If survivors of a horrific shooting can pick up the pieces and fight back, then we all can. There is strength in numbers and the stronger youth activism becomes, the stronger activism as a whole will become. A chain reaction is occurring and I can’t wait to see the result.

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