On March 20, the Institute of Politics at Harvard University held a forum titled “#NEVERAGAIN: How Parkland Students are Changing the Conversation on Guns.” Six students from Parkland, Florida attended this forum, holding a panel discussion and then answering audience questions. In attendance were Ryan Deitsch, Matt Deitsch, Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky, and Alex Wind. Their discussion focused on the movement they have started against gun violence, and the changes they have initiated. Another focus was on the power that everyone has to make a difference and to hold lawmakers accountable. No matter what your perspective is, the movement that these young people have started out of their grief and trauma is incredible.
They also emphasized the importance of their education in shaping their ability to create this movement. They mentioned the classes they took and how they enabled their ability to speak out. They also talked about how important it is for teachers to spark a conversation with their students–to inform, educate, and encourage, whether it be in the classroom or in extracurricular activities. Inspiring and educating students is often what empowers them to get involved.
At the forum the Parkland survivors emphasized how important it is to vote, and that through voting citizens can make a change. They talked about how being teenagers has helped their movement, because they are able to connect with youth and work with them. It is important to them that young people are encouraged to get involved, and that they are inspired to fight for what they believe in, and even for some to run for office.
However, even after voting and electing officials, they emphasize the importance of holding these officials accountable to the people they govern. David Hogg believes that it’s important to pay attention to the actions of these officials, and make sure that “power does not corrupt.”
It is important to these teenagers that their cause remain nonpartisan. Instead of division between political parties, the goal is simply to hold lawmakers accountable and force them to listen to their citizens. David Hogg says “fear and anger is what got us here,” and that to make a difference everyone needs to work together to achieve justice. Division is not the answer, instead their movement simply demands change. Emma Gonzalez adds “Bullets don’t discriminate. Why should we?”
Photos and article by Ava Berarducci