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U.S. students rally to support Parkland survivors, one month after shooting

National School Walkout Rally in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Photo via Wikimedia Commons, by Rhododendrites.
National School Walkout Rally in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Photo via Wikimedia Commons, by Rhododendrites.

Their voices will not be silenced.

One month after the Parkland shooting, in which 17 people were killed, students and their allies across the country are voicing their support for the student-led anti-gun violence movement.

Two key tools people are using to help: Participating in National Walkout Day, which is taking place today around the country, and using their voice on social media.

Several hashtags, including #NeverAgain, #EnoughIsEnough and #IWillMarch, have come to symbolize support for the movement and show solidarity with the survivors of the Florida shooting. And people are not afraid to use them.

One high-school senior Tweeted that she’d stand outside for 17 hours for the movement.

Another student took the opportunity to show how important the walkout was to her, writing: “Go ahead, give me a detention, suspend me. But you will never shut me up for standing up for every victim of gun violence, and for every student that was killed in Parkland.

Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the Pulse nightclub shooting, also tweeted his support: “I could think of no better way to honor the 17 with action than to walk out and demand change. We will rise.

The Parkland shooting, and the quick backlash from those who survived it, has given this younger generation access to the national stage in a way that hasn’t been seen before. For example, three New Jersey students and march organizers, Darcy Schleifstein, Zachary Dougherty and Sarah Emily Baum, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times voicing their support for the survivors and highlighted the need for stricter gun-control legislation nationwide.

Their message reflects the tactics that the Parkland survivors have used since their tragedy propelled them into the national spotlight. In it, the student activists pledge to vote for change once they’re of age, they tell those in charge that they need to step up and they ask for financial support for companies that do the same (or vice versa.)

“We will flex our muscles at the ballot box, too,” they write. “Let us remind politicians like Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell who accept donations from the National Rifle Association and oppose efforts to restrict gun purchases that we are the future leaders and voters of this country. Let us remind corporations like FedEx that provide discounts to N.R.A. members that we are their future customers.”

Almost twenty years after the Columbine shooting, at a time when lockdown drills have become the norm, this type of activism has become a way of life for some students. But for those personally invested in it, the Parkland movement isn’t just about students coming together to talk about their perspective on gun-control legislation. It’s also about rallying national support for the “common-sense gun control laws and school safety” that the New Jersey students call for.

They write: “We implore students, their parents, teachers, school administrators, religious leaders, corporate executives and elected officials across the country to join any march, no matter where they are, and fight to make our schools safe.”

The March for Our Lives, which is scheduled for March 24 (one week from today), will take place at thousands of locations across the country. In the interim, the spotlight seems fixed on these students, and they’ve proven that they aren’t going to shy away from it or give up their newfound megaphones any time soon.