We are horrified by the tragedy at Parkland and offer our deepest condolences. As educators, it is devastating to see promising lives lost and surviving students afraid to set foot in school. But even among the tragedy, we are given hope by students lifting their voices to make their schools a safe environment.
The Parkland students are joining a storied history of youth taking action and reclaiming their power in school, from The Birmingham Children’s Crusade of 1963, to the Little Rock 9, to the Chicano Student Walkout (1968). With the anniversary of Columbine approaching, we are seeing students establish their own place in history by refusing to accept gun violence in schools.
Emma Gonzalez, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior, recently gave an emboldened speech confronting adults in power on what she sees as their inability to address the type of tragedy that Parkland is reeling from. In this speech, which can be read in full here, Emma says:
“…They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call BS.”
We’re proud that Twin Cities students are showing solidarity with students across the nation calling for safe schools. This has included student activism around removal of SROs in schools as well as being outspoken about a range of issues from processing the death of Philando Castile to changing the names of their schools to reflect different legacies and more voices.
Just yesterday, Minneapolis students walked out of school in protest. One of Washburn High School’s debaters, Isabel Kleckner, helped organize her fellow students to march. MPR News quotes Isabel, stating: “It’s completely unreasonable that civilians should have access to assault rifles where they can go into schools and continue to shoot students who are there trying to learn. It just keeps happening, and after Parkland, students really took this movement.” They were joined by South High School students, also represented by debater Isra Hirsi, as reported in Citypages. We’re proud of local students and others across their nation for their courage.
To the students fighting for their right to safe schools: Thank You.
You can show your support to the students fighting for safe schools by joining and promoting local and national student walkouts, including the March For Our Lives.