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Just days after a gunman walked onto campus and killed 17 people, Parkland, Florida student Emma Gonzalez took the podium in Fort Lauderdale with fervor. In a high-profile speech to promote gun-control measures, Gonzalez offered a promise: Someday, their story would appear in textbooks.
“Just like Tinker v. Des Moines, we are going to change the law,” Gonzalez said, referring to the landmark Supreme Court decision that defined the First Amendment rights of public school students. “That’s going to be Marjory Stoneman Douglas in that textbook and it’s going to be due to the tireless effort of the school board, the faculty members, the family members, and — most of all — the students.”
On Wednesday, the debate over gun control, student safety, and student free speech rights take center stage as students from hundreds of schools across the country walk out of class to demand that Congress address gun violence in American schools. The 17-minute “National School Walkout” is one of several local and national student protests scheduled over the next month.
As school districts across the country brace for a mass student exodus — if only for 17 minutes — the response from administrators has varied. In New York City, student protesters will get a notation in the student attendance record for their civil disobedience, but won’t otherwise be punished. Other districts, including the Needville Independent School District in Texas, plan to suspend students who skip class.
From the civil rights movement to anti-violence protests during the Vietnam War to the Black Lives Matter Movement, student voices have long been a driving force in advancing American social issues. Though young people are often characterized as being disengaged or apathetic, according to the report, their actions have long had a powerful impact on American politics.
Read the full article about the 17-minute walkout by Mark Keierleber at The 74.