A Personal Perspective on the School Walkout
I usually write blog posts about horrible things that are going on in the world--and there are many--but I decided that we should celebrate a good thing that happened: the national walkout on March 14.
It was moving. Hundreds, maybe thousands of students from my school, and students from Girls’ High nearby were out of class and protesting. I stood with my fellow Central Students outside the front doors of our school while the names of the Parkland victims were read and a mini-biography was stated for each one. Then someone read a spoken-word poem, which was powerful in itself and powerful because it was student-written. Everyone clapped in that hard, impressed way that conveys the audience is trying to display as much appreciation as possible with only their hands.
I didn’t know so many people were going to walk out. I thought I’d get up out of my seat in history, receive a hard-earned shocked look from my teacher (who, to say the least, implied his disapproval of our movement--our foot movement and our activism movement), and I’d be the only person leaving.
I guess I didn’t anticipate the magnitude of the movement? But my fellow students were shuffling around the pavement and we were all together--not just in our group huddled against the cold, but in our mindset. For once, there were no lines dividing those who looked down on others, those who thought they were better. We were all together.
When we were mourning the Florida losses, Girls’ High girls came stampeding down the street holding signs and shouting. My friend said she wanted to shout with them. A few cars honked their horns at us.
After the hour-long vigil, some of us--those who could, earning yearning looks from those who wanted to but couldn’t--took to the train station, crowded into seats on the orange line to get to City Hall.
That was the most moving part. Because I realized it was all youth leading this movement. Sure, there were adult police officers guarding the streets to make sure we were okay, but the oldest people I noticed were college students. And because of that, there were people scrambling up statues and climbing on stop-sign poles, and it was chaos in its best form, people shouting out chants into megaphones and standing on top of big potted plants to be heard and seen because we didn’t have podiums? Or stages? We did this ourselves. And there was that general teen energy, that kind of sizzling happiness that comes with youth--people running up to hug each other and people’s voices, strong, parting the crowd. And it was amazing to be surrounded by people who cared so strongly, in such quantity. Throngs of them, of us, making sure the cars couldn’t meander down the streets and receiving horn-honks of support from the adults on their way to work.
One woman came up to my group of friends and told us how great it was that we were doing this; kids hadn’t done this since the war in the ‘60s, she said, how great it was that we were doing this, rising again as grandkids to the hippies from a few decades ago.
We, I’ve decided, are our parents’ last remaining memory. We are rising against all that BS being thrown in our faces: it can’t be better than this. You’re gonna have to deal with the guns and the bad education and the war. People aren’t good. People aren’t good. But we know we are--we all are. We’ve forgotten how, but we are good.
And, as that lady at the march said, we are the next generation’s leaders.