by Elaijah Gibbs-Jones
High school students from all over the United States staged walkouts to protest against gun violence that has impacted U.S. school systems since the 1700s.
Many of the students, who are not even close to voting age, decided to leave their classes for 17 minutes on Wednesday, Mar. 13, 2018 to honor the 17 victims of the shooting in Parkland, Fla. The walkout was organized by EMPOWER, the youth wing of the Women’s March.
From the Carolinas to the Columbine, Colorado, high school students walked out to their schools’ bus lots, football fields, and even the U.S. Capitol. In memoriam of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting, the students created participated in moments of silence, chants and speeches that challenged gun control laws.
Schools in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland were joined by lawmakers during their walkout to Capitol Hill. Students spoke while lawmakers questioned the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on the changes that can be made to school safety.
“We refuse to learn in fear and we reject to turn our schools into prisons. We will accept nothing less than comprehensive gun control. Not just in our schools but in churches, movie theaters, on the streets and in communities of color that are disproportionately devastated by the sickness of gun violence,” said high school senior and Montgomery county board member Matt Post to the crowd.
On Snapchat’s Snap Map, there were a range of stories posted students countrywide chanting sayings such as “17 minutes for 17 lives. No teenager deserves to die.” Smith High School student leaders in Greensboro, NC led a call saying “Show me what democracy looks like,” while the students body responded, “This is what democracy looks like.”
In Durham, North Carolina, Hillside High School students participated in the walkout. Hundreds of them filed into the school’s bus parking lot to hear Common and John Legend’s Glory sung by their choir and speeches from their elected school leaders. The school’s Student Government Association President gave a speech on why the participation in the protest was important for students throughout the country were one of those officials.
“It is essential for our youth to have these protests because we are the next generation of voters and the laws that are created now will affect our future,” said senior and SGA President Michael McGirt.
Although many of the students saw no retaliation from administrators, there were some students that did not obtain positivity from the adults around them. Aminah Glenn, a junior at Kenwood Academy High School in Chicago, IL was arrested along with five other students. According to the Chicago Sun Times, the students were marching to Lake Shore Drive to block traffic in hopes of an impactful response.
After the walkouts occurred, the National Rifle Association tweeted to display their stance against the students’ protests.
However, students are not allowing negativity to deter their activism. On March 24, students nationwide including Florida residents are expected to arrive in Washington, D.C. for the “March of Our Lives” organized by Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school students.
To learn more or to join #ENOUGH: National School Walkout, here is a link to the Women’s March Website, https://www.womensmarch.com/empower/.