The news of the recent school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left the nation wrought with sadness and fear. Yet another batch of innocent people had been taken from this Earth too soon by way of gun violence.
However, the aftermath of this tragedy is much different from the reactions we have seen in months and years past. Instead of sending “thoughts and prayers” to the victims’ families on Twitter, people are beginning to make real changes, one of which is a movement dubbed Never Again.
Never Again is started by none other than the students who survived the Parkland tragedy. These young people are taking the steps to initiate legislative reform and protest for their natural right to feel safe while attending school. Without further ado, here are some of the most outspoken students who have emerged from the ashes of Parkland.
1. Sarah Chadwick
Chadwick, a junior at Stoneman Douglas, has actively spoken out in person and on social media about the Parkland shooting. In an incredibly moving speech, she announced to the nation that Never Again is “a revolution created by students, for students” that aims to both honor her deceased classmates and prevent people from losing their lives to gun violence in the future.
Her Twitter account has been the source of an interesting sort of activism. By incorporating clever meme references in her tweets, Chadwick has made the Never Again message more accessible to her Gen Z and millennial peers.
The movement has attracted and gained the support of young people, who are stereotyped as politically apathetic, with a strong focus on the audience at the heart of this whole incident. Students like Chadwick are the reason why more of the youth are choosing to join the fight every day, regardless of what any adult says otherwise.
2. David Hogg
Hogg became one of the faces representing Parkland early on as a popular CNN interview of him spread rapidly after the shooting occurred. His direct and frank treatment of gun control issues has made him a figure to rally behind, and he has since made several more television appearances.
And if this name looks familiar to you, it is most likely because the MSD senior was widely accused of being a crisis actor by conspiracy theorists, as were many of the other Parkland kids.
Despite such ridiculous claims being thrown his way, Hogg eloquently denounced these blatant lies and even went on to thank everyone for the free publicity. To echo his words, Hogg shared that “They’ve lost faith in America, but we certainly haven’t. And that’s ok because we’re going to outlive [those adults].”
3. Emma González
After giving her powerful speech about gun control in American schools, González blew up on social media as the principal voice of Parkland. Not only was she one of the students to speak up at CNN’s Town Hall broadcast, but she also wrote a poignant essay recently about her frustration with gun policy and being a young activist.
“We are children who are being expected to act like adults, while the adults are proving themselves to behave like children,” she tells Harper’s Bazaar. “Adults like us when we have strong test scores, but they hate us when we have strong opinions.”
González has also garnered over 1 million Twitter followers in just a couple weeks, gaining the support of celebrities and students alike. Her passion will continue to inspire people to fight for what is right.
4. Cameron Kasky
This high school junior is one of the initial minds behind Never Again, organizing a GoFundMe that raised nearly $3 million for the March for Our Lives campaign. Additionally, Kasky was able to ask a crucial question to Senator Marco Rubio at CNN’s Town Hall, “Can you tell me you won’t be accepting a single penny from the NRA?”
The blunt nature of his inquiry had thousands rallying behind him as he would not allow Rubio to dodge his question in the way that politicians tend to do.
After the broadcast, Kasky appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” along with her fellow students, Emma González and Jaclyn Corin, to discuss the shooting. They handled questions with intelligence and grace despite the fact that the circumstances were not ideal.
5. Delaney Tarr
Tarr is one of the several students who gave speeches at the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee, and she truly nailed it in every aspect. Not only did she give a precise list of reforms she would like to see but she also called out people who support the Parkland kids with words rather than actions.
“We’ve heard enough of ‘we are so strong,’ ‘we are so powerful’ because that is not why we are here,” she says. “We are not here to be patted on the back.” In her essay published on Teen Vogue, she went on to express the determination to continue to speak out against issues, such as gun violence, despite the feelings of being robbed of her teenage years.
6. Alfonso Calderon
16-year-old Calderon, who also spoke at the Florida State Capitol alongside Tarr, has shown remarkable courage and eloquence. In his speech, he detailed his personal experience during the shooting, “I was in a closet, locked for four hours with people who I would consider almost family crying and weeping on me begging for their lives.”
He went on to establish the fact that the Parkland kids are just that — kids. However, this doesn’t discredit their political opinions or their ability to understand the world around them. He hammered home the “I understand” notion by pressing that his opinion is just as valid as any adult’s.
Considering the severity of the tragedy that befell these young men and women, they have handled themselves well. In the face of adversity, they have proved that a single person’s voice does matter in a world where opinions seem to fall on deaf ears.
Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, as there are numerous other students and faculty who have spoken out. But as long as they continue to speak out, there will be people that support them and spread their message.