Seventeen innocent people were killed as they sat in their high school classes, never imagining that the terrifying reality of school shootings would ever affect them. On February 14, 2018, a gunman opened fired at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, killing seventeen students and staff members, and injuring seventeen more.
Instead of forcing the students to hide in fear, they were instead inspired to fight back and create a movement to make our country realize that we need to make a change. Emma González, Alex Wind, Cameron Kasky, David Hogg and Jaclyn Corin are five students from Marjory Stoneman Douglass who used their inevitable presence in the public eye to make a change. Here’s everything you need to know about these incredibly strong individuals.
You’re sure to know González from the chilling speech she gave at the March for Our Lives rally in March. In her 7 minute and 20 second long speech she used a moment of her time to name each victim and detail the shooting before she abruptly led several minutes of silence, 6 minutes and 20 seconds of silence to be exact. She used this time to represent the amount of time it took for the shooter to kill 17 students and staff and injure 17 more.
González has given several more powerful and emotional speeches in recent months, as she continues to bring awareness to gun control and demand action from the government and our society. Another passionate speech by González took place at the anti-gun rally in Fort Lauderdale, just days after the Parkland shooting. She demands change to our gun laws, referencing “Since the time of the Founding Fathers and since they added the Second Amendment to the Constitution, our guns have developed at a rate that leaves me dizzy. The guns have changed but our laws have not”.
Wind was one of the first students to publicly speak out about the shooting. Wind was one of three students who started “Never Again MSD”, a campaign created with the purpose of gaining public attention, making changes to our current gun laws. Wind also spoke at the March for Our Lives rally, where he focuses on the impact our nation’s youth can make on history.
Wind specifically gave examples of Joan of Arc and Mozart accomplishing incredible feats, fighting English forces at 17 and writing his first symphony at 8, respectively. By the words of this incredible 17-year-old, “All it comes down to is life or death. To all the politicians out there, if you take money from the NRA, you have chosen death.”
“Welcome to the revolution.” Kasky was the individual with the idea to name their movement “Never Again”. One of Kasky’s most memorable and intense moments occurred when he spoke at a televised town hall meeting where he asked Marco Rubio “Can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA?” Though Rubio gave a vague answer where he essentially dodged the question, Kasky did something many wouldn’t dare to do, let alone something many teenagers who just witnessed trauma wouldn’t dare to do.
In an interview with NPR, Kasky expressed his feelings towards the Parkland shooting and gun control, saying “Can’t sleep. Thinking about so many things. So angry that I’m not scared or nervous anymore…I’m just angry. I just want people to understand what happened and understand that doing nothing will lead to nothing. Who’d have thought that concept was so difficult to grasp?”
Hogg is 18 years old and has not only been a leader of multiple protests, marches, and boycotts, but he also wrote a book, “#NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line”. Hogg has been incredibly vocal in demanding that elected government officials pass gun control laws. He and his sister met the survivors of Columbine High School massacre while appearing on The Dr. Phil Show.
Hogg believes in having new gun legislation, telling Fox News the legislation he wants to see includes, “Raising the federal age of gun ownership and possession to the age of 21; banning all bump stocks; making sure that we have universal background checks; making sure that people who have committed acts of domestic violence are no longer able to get a gun, which in Florida, it’s harder, it’s just not impossible, fully, yet; and making sure that people with a criminal history and a history of mental illness are not able to obtain these weapons of mass destruction”.
Corin is credited with being the organizer of the Florida protest that took place just 6 days after the Parkland shooting. Vanity Fair reported that she had the idea to organize the trip because “the news forgets—very quickly—we needed a critical mass event”. Corin has been a present face in the media, appearing on the Rachel Maddow Show, her own YouTube Channel, and being pictured on the cover of Time’s magazine.
She was also heavily involved in organizing and planning the March for Our Lives protest; in her interview with Vanity Fair she explained how although the march is essential, they don’t want to oversaturate the media. You can read more about her thought process behind contributing to the March for Our Lives protest here.
These five young students fought back both against the shooter and against the lack of gun control we have in this nation. These young adults should be grieving but instead they have taken it upon themselves to create the lack of change that we are all responsible for.
Our nation owes it to the members of the Parkland community, to everyone who has ever been affected by mass shootings, and to those who inevitably will be affected if we don’t make a change in our laws. We need change now, so no one else has to experience the loss of a loved one. The change starts with us, and we’re not staying silent. Never again.