It's been exactly one month since the Parkland shooting.
For weeks, students have been planning a national school walkout. On March 14th, both high schools and colleges have created a uniform protest with the ultimate goal of bringing awareness to and lobbying for gun control. The walkout centers around seventeen minutes of silence: one minute for each lost life. Most protests are preceded and ended with a call for persistence.
The walkout at Wellesley College started at 9:50 a.m. There were around 200 participants who had gathered in the Academic Quad, all huddled in the snow. Our walkout was interspersed with the releasing of seventeen balloons, all in the maroon and silver color scheme of MSD High School.
During the walkout, I focused mainly on two things:
One: how terrible and how unthinkable it is to have a parent outlive his child. And how brave it is to lose your child and still choose to go on fighting.
Manuel Oliver has painted a portrait mural in memory of his son, Joaquin. Next to Joaquin's portrait, in large black letters, he writes, "WE DEMAND A CHANGE". It's signed by all the Parkland survivors, complete with notes of encouragement. In the corner, in Manuel's handwriting: "LOVE YOU FOREVER". It's part of "Parkland 17", an art exhibit dedicated to the those who were lost.
Oliver has started a nonprofit dedicated to young activists who want to be heard. He's not the only parent who has come out in support of the students who are fighting for gun control. The effort to create and change legislation has been overwhelming.
Two: how incredible and outspoken the students of today have become. I am so proud of the students in America; this country does not deserve them.
Namely, David Hogg, Emma González, Jaclyn Corin and Cameron Kasky have become the student leaders of the #NeverAgain movement. They have spearheaded the March for Our Lives, and collaborated to make sure that all efforts for Parkland have been heard. These extraordinary students are the reason why we still talk about Parkland, why it's still relevant, and why change is more imminent than ever.
All of these students have used social media (especially Twitter) to garner acknowledgement and demand that legislators create stricter gun laws. They've appeared on national television and showed every school in America what the worst could be if change isn't created soon.
These students are incredibly powerful and ridiculously strong. I wish they wouldn't have to be. It shouldn't take a near-death experience to create an activist.
At the end of the Wellesley College walkout, we were handed orange ribbons: a symbol of solidarity and strength, and these were tied on to the lampposts, tree branches, and surrounding signs. The student leaders made sure to remind us to vote in any upcoming elections, to cause change where we could.
First, there was shock. Then, unspeakable grief —followed by anger. And I hope it concludes with better legislation. America owes this to its children.