Hats off to the Students of Stoneman Douglas High

Hooray for the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida! Everyone’s heard about the 19-year-old former student who walked into the school with a legally purchased AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and killed 17 people–mostly students.  I cannot begin to imagine what those survivors experienced.  Yet they did their best to push the horror of  the shooting aside, and they stepped with determination right into the middle of the sticky gun control discussion.

The kids  went to see the Florida lawmakers to insist that something be done to prevent such massacres in the future.  “Yes, yes,” everyone was quick to say. “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”  Really?  Well, that’s all well and good, but it doesn’t mean much.  The kids ignored the rhetoric and demanded action.  Real, concrete solutions.

So mere days after the murder of their friends, Stoneman Douglas High School students harnessed their pain and led the charge in the gun control debate.  Their intensity and heartfelt determination forced Florida to change laws that had seemed immovably sealed in cement.  They also went to Washington D.C. where they were welcomed with the same “thoughts and prayers” line, but didn’t get the answers and agreements they sought.

They also help town hall meetings. In February, one young man made headlines when, during a CNN Town Hall,  he called out U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s donations from the National Rifle Association.

Two dozen students wearing matching “March For Our Lives: Road to Change” T-shirts announced the tour at a news conference at Parkland Amphitheater, where the students just months ago held a vigil for the 17 killed in the rampage.

Yes, it is a change from their original platform of gun reform.  Or maybe not.  Perhaps what is really needed to achieve real gun reform is to get  disinterested citizens energized about voting.

“Real change is brought about by getting out there and making sure we’re holding our politicians accountable by voting, getting those out of office that don’t represent us the way they said they would,” said Cameron Kasky, who just graduated. “And getting those into office that are going to be morally just and represent the people.”

If this reminds you of the Freedom Summer, the volunteer campaign in the summer of 1964 to try to register as many African-American voters as possible in Mississippi, you’re right. That was organized by civil rights groups, including the most active one — the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.  Their goal was to expand black voting through registration, participation, and education in the South.

The Parkland students’ tour will include stops at rallies, round tables, churches and schools, said Emma Gonzales–another leader. The tour will have 75 stops, including caucus states like Iowa and South Carolina.

“We support policy over people. We do not endorse any candidates,” student leader Chris Grady said. As for the one policy or message the teens most want to promote: “Vote,” he said.  “Vote!”

I say, “Amen, teens! Lead on!”

“This is just the beginning. 

We’re ready to get to work.”



About kaystrom

Kay Marshall Strom, who am I? Well, I’m a traveler, a railer against social injustice, a passionate citizen of the world. I’m a follower of Jesus Christ. I’m a 21st century abolitionist who speaks out against slavery of all kinds. I am a beach walker and a gardener and the off-key singer of songs. I’m a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend. Most people, though, know me as a writer and a speaker. So here is a bit more about that part of my life: Of my 43 published books, seventeen have been translated into foreign languages, and two have been optioned for movies. My writing credits include magazine articles, books for children, short stories, television scripts and two prize-winning screenplays. I love to write, and speak, about topics close to my heart. I speak at seminars, retreats, writer’s conferences, and special events throughout the country. And because I enjoy travel, I even speak on cruise ships. Because I don’t see how a writer can really reflect another people and land without spending time there, I’ve been trekking through India, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Nepal, Sudan, Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt, Japan and South Korea, tape recorder and camera in hand, to gather stories from the world-wide family of God. Thanks to my “virtual friendship” with John Newton, 17th century slave ship captain turned preacher, I traveled through Ireland. In West Africa I toured an old slave fortress off the coast and saw a tiny set of baby manacles bolted to the wall. I was struck dumb. From that horror came a story question, and from that question, my foray into fiction: The Grace in Africa trilogy. Come join me as I travel and rail against injustice. Maybe you will choose to be a 21st century abolitionist too.
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