After the nation experienced the shock of the Parkland shooting, everyone expected the traditional schedule to play out – thoughts and prayers being echoed by social media, only to have them buried and forgotten by next day’s news. But the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School refused to confirm this, instead immediately launching a gun control campaign in the wake of their grief. Embracing the national spotlight, these kids created the Never Again movement overnight and met with hundreds of news networks begging for a call.
Started by junior Cameron Kasky, the team met in a parent’s living room armed with markers, whiteboards and green tape. Kasky himself thought of the name, “Never Again.” Kasky and his team toiled to build a website and design a logo. From the outside, it looked as if it was an ordinary school project- “Mr. Brightside” by the Killers played in the background while the kids laughed and ate baked pasta, commenting on which celebrity had retweeted them. But details Press conferences scheduled between funerals and a phone that never stopped ringing served as a reminder that this was bigger than just another school project.
“We slept enough to keep us going, but we’ve been nonstop all day, all night,” said Sofie Whitney, 18, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas said of the first days after the shooting. “This isn’t easy for us, but it’s something I need to do.”
The names have become more and more familiar, especially since their appearance on CNN town hall. Emma Gonzalez, a 12th grader at MSD was the one who challenged Trump and the NRA at a rally.
“The people in the government who are voted into power are lying to us,” she told the crowd through tears. “And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and are prepared to call BS.”
David Hogg, a senior at MSD was the first to open up to the camera, being first in line just minutes after the shooting.
On social media, these survivors and powerful advocates for gun control garnered attention and became verified on Twitter overnight. The official account of the movement, @AMarch4RLives, has over 100K followers, the main purpose being the promotion of two key events. On the 14th of March, students all over the US plan to walk out of class in protest of current gun control laws and to demand stricter gun regulations. This will happen at 10 AM, and students will leave classrooms for just 17 minutes, one for each life lost in the Parkland shooting. On the 24th, a march on Washington D.C will serve a similar purpose, advocating for Congress to do something. In Los Angeles, the march will take place in Pershing Square beginning at 10:00 AM.
Despite the steadfast demeanor of team Never Again, Parkland students are still facing trauma as a result of the scarring tragedy. A student had a panic attack while another cried on the floor. Another, John Barnitt, 17, could still recount seeing classmates “dropping their backpacks and kicking their flip flops off to run faster away from the crime scene.
“It’s a painful reminder that these kids had just lost 17 of their friends and classmates, and that is what has given them so much passion in this task,” Barnitt commented.
To support them and their cause, you can participate in the two previously mentioned events, campaign to get your friends and family involved, or starting planning and promoting the walkout to get as many students involved at your own school. I know I’m walking out on 3/14. I hope you can, too.
Quotations for this article came from Buzzfeed, YouTube, and The Washington Post