The Power of the School Walk Out

Last night, my 13-year old daughter, Leela, stayed up long past her bedtime to make five posters for the National School Walkout. She coordinated messaging with her elder sister and friends, contemplating if an image of a man from the NRA holding a gun to the Statue of Liberty was pushing it too far. I let her make the call, and she adapted it to what she felt was appropriate.

As we drove to school, my 16-year old daughter, Tara, was unusually quiet. There was excitement for the day ahead, but she reflected on how incredibly sad it was that this was a moment for her generation. School shootings, kids senselessly killed, easy access to guns, frustration with the system. After the Orlando shootings she had written a song to express her emotions around a rallying cry to Stand Up.  That these shootings happen over and over again just is incomprehensible to her, to all of us.

At 10am, my girls walked out of their Los Angeles school for 17 minutes of protest where they chanted in the streets. They followed the waves of students at schools across the country whom had done so in the preceding hours. I watched their school’s Facebook Live as cars honked and their classmates stood in solidarity.  Their friends from other schools and their cousins across the country posted photos on Instagram and Snapchat. As one of their friends said to me this evening, “it was amazing to be part of something bigger than ourselves.”

My daughters’ school followed the walk out with a silent memorial, and then a session on insight into gun control. They wrote postcards encouraging people to vote and called members of congress. Leela remarked, “It was important to protest because educators with guns are not going to help make schools a safe place.” She found the words to participate in the national dialogue of gun control. Tara even registered to vote herself in 2020!

The day inspired, provoked, but also motivated them to take action. Today gave these kids a sense of ownership in their future, and some tools to be active citizens.

My daughter, Tara, reflected, “Today the hope for a brighter future was clearer than it has been in a long time. I know that my generation has the ability to change this violence, and one day never again will a travesty like what happened in Florida take place.”

I could not be more proud of this generation.

They care. They are passionate. They know how to use technology to mobilize.

They are the beacons of light for our future.