MARCH 14, 2018, 10 a.m. — over a million high school students walked out of class, protesting decades of political inaction on the pressing crisis of gun violence.
Marching to the corner of Embarcadero and El Camino Road, I joined hundreds of Palo Alto High School students — and over a million youth across the nation — in demanding an end to policies that enable gun violence.
Students across America, including myself, were fed up with living with the threat of gun violence in our schools and communities. Our worst fears were realized in Parkland, Florida, when 17 students like us were gunned down by a shooter who took advantage of our nation’s weak gun laws.
Students like me felt an urge to send a message, to collectively say, “Enough is enough!” And then, on March 14, we did. Student protesters walking out of class showed the world that the youth of America, no matter our backgrounds, were ready to stand up and fight for what we believed in.
The walkout was not the beginning of my activism, but it certainly gave me and many others the strength and purpose to organize concerned students into action.
Though I’d been involved in political activism since eighth grade, when I volunteered for Democratic campaigns and participated in early protests against President Donald Trump, I noticed these protests were largely adult-led but, the #NeverAgain walkouts for gun control were almost entirely organized by students.
As a young activist, this gave me a sense of hope and strength knowing that there were large numbers of students ready to join me in pushing change. To those who opposed our objectives, the student-led protests stood as a warning that we would not go down without a fight.
Almost exactly one year later, on March 15, 2019, students across 123 countries marched to demand action to address the crisis of climate change.
I led Paly students in a rally on the same corner where I walked out for gun control a year earlier to demand our elected officials push policies to put the brakes on global warming.
Drawing inspiration from other young activists around the world who are taking action to address the defining crisis of our generation — activists like those behind the Sunrise movement, who publicly called out complacent elected officials — I was determined to lead my fellow Paly students and join these activists in taking a stand for our futures and the future of our planet.
Youth activist energy has always been a driving force for change, from the anti-war movements of the 1960s to the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Now, with new energy and urgency, student activists like me are fighting for gun control and the future of our planet.
We know that when we fight together, we are a force for change, a force to be reckoned with.
Our ranks are growing with more and more students becoming passionate activists for what they believe in and we are only getting started in the fight for justice. And with every student who takes action, the youth activist wave only grows stronger.