History and activism are marked by young voices speaking out

Wednesday the Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden came to discuss Black History month and Carter G. Woodson’s contributions to Black History. Part of that history since Woodson, has become the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s and their efforts to help pass legislation toward equal rights of all Americans. Hayden said in an interview before her lecture that the students from Parkland, Florida get her excited for positive activism in American history.

“That’s what gets me excited about seeing the activism of the young people, because (young people) are making history now,” Hayden said. “Just like the students made history with the civil rights movement, the college students were the ones who did the sit-ins at the counter-tops, and the college students in the ‘60s with the Vietnam War.”

Thursday former President Barrack Obama tweeted, “Young people have helped lead all our great movements. How inspiring to see it again in so many smart, fearless students standing up for their right to be safe; marching and organizing to remake the world as it should be. We’ve been waiting for you. And we’ve got your backs.”

The idea that these high school students should not contribute to the gun legislation conversation is futile and un-American. These teenagers experienced something that no one should ever experience. They lost their best friends, their classmates, their teachers, and they never want this to happen again.

But now the cycle we have become numb to has something stopping it and many on the right are upset. They have gone as far as to say that these high school students are paid actors, that they are being paid by CNN and Democratic funders to help further their agenda. The worst of all these excuses is that they are children and should not contribute to the conversation.

Tinker v. Des Moines is a famous court case where two high school students fought for their right to protest the Vietnam War. They wore black arm bands around their arms to practice in silent protest. Georgia Congressman John Lewis was only 23 years old when he marched with Dr. Martin Luther King. The civil rights protesters in Greensboro, North Carolina were only college students when they sat down at the “whites only” counter top. And the Kent State shooting was a result of college students protesting the Vietnam War.

In 2018 alone, there have been 18 school shootings in America. Logic says that this is a problem concerning high school students. So why are gun owners, Republicans and the National Rifle Association trying to silence these students? Because they know that the time has come to stop the sale of automatic-rifles, and they know the people to finally help pass legislation are the students and parents from Parkland, Florida.

It has been said in this paper and it will be said again, if your idea of a fun hobby is shooting a gun that killed 60 people in Las Vegas, 20 children in Sandy Hook and now 17 teenagers in Parkland, then it is time to find a new hobby.

Just like Hayden said, young people make history. We do not remember the legislators who chose not to act. We remember those who chose to act. The legislators who are choosing to delegitimize this movement should realize that by their senior year, high school students will remember those who chose to protect them and those who chose to side with the NRA.

Tom Jenkins can be contacted at [email protected].