Three Cheers for the National School Walkout

I applaud and thank the organizers and participants in today’s National School Walkout (NSW).

From the NSW website, the National School Walkout is

a movement powered and led by students across the country. NSW protests congressional, state, and local failures to take action to prevent gun violence. America is the only country in the world where so many people are killed by guns, and yet our leaders do nothing about it. In many states it’s more difficult to register to vote than it is to buy a rifle. Apparently to some politicians, a vote is scarier than a gun.

Here are the organization’s three main goals:

  • Hold elected officials accountable
  • Promote solutions to gun violence
  • Demystify and engage students in the political system

If today is any indication, NSW is off to a wonderful start in accomplishing its goals. There were over 2,700 walkouts, at least one in every state. The walkout started at 10:00 am in each time zone. The day was not chosen randomly; it marked the 19th anniversary of the Columbine high school shootings.

I find it quite impressive that the founder of this movement is only a sophomore, 16 year old Lane Murdock from Ridgefield High School in CT. Murdock notes that it wasn’t so much the February 14 massacre at Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, FL, but the absence in her community of any profound response to it that gave root to her mission. That night she began a petition at change.org to fight gun violence and to plan for the walkout. Two months later, it has nearly 300,000 signatures. In addition, the group’s Twitter account has 131,000 followers, and there are more than 150 member chapters have formed around the country.

At 16 one of my primary concerns was making sure I was home in time to watch the Three Stooges, and likely had little knowledge of, or interest in, any of the issues of the day. I’ve heard many of the students give brief speeches at these walkouts around the country, and they were passionate, articulate, and knowledgeable.

I also loved seeing the tweets from several famous people, lending their name and support to the cause:

  • John Lewis: To the young people speaking up and speaking out today, my heart is with you. Keep walking and keep marching all the way to the polls in November. You will change America.
  • Bernie Sanders: Congratulations to the students who are standing up and speaking out today in the . Your leadership will move us forward. It’s long past time for Congress to take action on gun safety to save innocent lives.
  • Elizabeth Warren: Most of the students marching in today’s were born after the Columbine shooting. They grew up in a different world – and now they’re coming together to try and make it better. This is what democracy looks like. This is how we make change.
  • Jared Leto: Standing in solidarity with the voices of the future. Enough is enough.
  • Dianne Feinstein: Though we’ve seen these shootings become more commonplace for students, there’s reason to be optimistic about a way forward on common sense . All across the country students are taking part in and powerfully calling for change.
  • Robert DeNiro even wrote an excuse letter that students could give to their principal explaining why they were participating in the Walkout:

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And while I am not famous, I would also like to offer my support, and thanks, to these young people for caring enough to get ivolved in such a movement. I wish you continued success, and I look forward to seeing your impact on the polls this coming election.

Most of the images from today show dozens, if not, hundreds of students in the various walkouts, seven year old Havana Edwards of Washington, D.C., stood alone.

I find the image just as powerful, if not more so, than the ones with hundreds of students. It reminds me of the lone Tiananmen Square protester:

I look forward to the time when people like Lane Murdock and Havana Edwards are the leaders of our country. Leaders who want to see a more just society and who think beyond their own wants and needs. I am hopeful for the future.

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