Just six weeks after the tragic school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School the March For Our Lives protests took place nationwide on Mar. 24, fighting for gun control and sending the message that what happened in Parkland is not acceptable.
With over 800 marches across the county, and even some internationally, everyone is talking about the protests and what they will mean in terms of gun control. However, another thing to consider is what they will mean for the future of American politics, and for young political minds.
It’s no secret that young adults tend not to participate in politics and elections as much as older generations. But this movement in particular could really have an enormous impact on that trend, in that so much of the support for this gun control push is from young people.
This was no accident though, as the minds behind March For Our Lives were incredibly smart with who they had speak at the marches. The whole thing was put together by young people and for young people, and while many politicians in support of this movement wanted to give speeches, the only people that spoke were teenagers and kids, particularly ones affected by gun violence themselves.
The biggest march took place in Washington D.C., and of course featured several survivors of the Parkland shooting. Arguably the most famous of the group, Emma Gonzalez gave an six minute and 20 second speech, most of that time being a moment of silence, signifying how long it took for the shooter in her school to complete his massacre. Later on, Samantha Fuentes, who was wounded during the shooting, delivered a speech where she got so emotional she actually threw up on stage. It didn’t stop her though, as she continued on with the rest of her speech, and then asked all 800,000 attendees to sing a chilling rendition of “Happy Birthday” to a student who lost his life in the shooting, and would have celebrated his birthday on the day of the march.
Moments like those are incredibly moving, especially from the perspective of a high schooler, and soon to be voter. When people like the Parkland students, or any other student brave enough to speak their mind so publicly and so sure of their own beliefs get on stage, it’s almost impossible not to feel the need to push for change, and want to speak one’s own beliefs, no matter what side of the debate one is on.
It’s no surprise so many people feel this way. A huge part of the movement is trying to get young people to register to vote, and inspiring people like the kids who spoke at the rallies are making it happen. During the coverage of the event, there were people as young as thirteen being interviewed about why they thought that the march was important. Of course it will be a few more elections before some of the people attending the march will be able to vote, however as soon as they turn 18, BAM! They will instantly turn into voters ready to make their voices heard.
This could end up having an incredibly strong impact on the American politics, as young politically active voters flood the elections. Not only that, but a lot of young people practically live on social media and could lead to even more people getting involved as the movement to get young people to vote gets shared more and more across various platforms.
With the midterm elections coming up in November, and with the push to get young people to register to vote getting bigger and bigger, the United States Congress could potentially see a huge shake up in who gets elected. The important thing for the movement though, is not to let the momentum die. However, this isn’t likely with people like Emma Gonzalez or David Hogg in the media and online always reminding people what happened and what they’re fighting for.
From the perspective of someone not able to vote yet, and still figuring out her political stances, seeing such a huge movement from high school students is incredible. Although it’s impossible to tell what the outcome of the midterm elections will be, and if this push for young people to vote will have its intended impact on Congress, speaking one’s mind has proven to be one of the most powerful things one can do at any age, and will hopefully become more and more common for high school students across the nation.
Grace Becker // News Editor