Support the fight of their lives

History has shown kids’ have the power to enact change; back them as they protest gun violence

The author is a Chico State alum and former small-business owner.

The students of the high school in Parkland, Fla., are fed up with the inaction of adults in reining in the carnage of gun violence. They remember the inaction after the massacre of small children at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

They’re savvy, they’re passionate, and they’re resolute: this time around they are determined to lead the revolt against the continuous slaughter by gun violence. They are organizing a March 14 nationwide 17-minute school walkout, and a March 24 march on Washington, D.C. They are simply asking for sensible gun safety legislation. They will use social media to mobilize, and their collective voice to ignite action. They know they pay the price for decisions or lack thereof fostered by adults.

A look at history shows youths paved the way for meaningful change. In 1955, in Montgomery, Ala., 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat on a bus and was arrested. In 1958, it was an 8-year-old girl who suggested a sit-in at a segregated lunch counter in Oklahoma. The Birmingham Children’s Crusade of 1963 became the defining moment in the civil rights movement. Students helped lead the protests against the one-party government of Czechoslovakia, and drove the Arab Spring protests that toppled dictatorships in Egypt and Tunisia. It was high school and college students who led protests that helped end the Vietnam War.

Social media is swamped with hateful opinions. Tweets charge student leaders of being left-wing actors, children of Trump haters. In Texas, a school district superintendent has declared students will be suspended if they cause any disruptions by protesting gun violence. Here in Chico, a member of the board of education suggested that students might want to consider staging their walkout during lunchtime or after school, which would have little or no impact.

The Women’s March organizers have pledged their support. What the students are desperate for is backed by a majority of Americans. Their attitude is they have nothing left to lose because they just lost best friends and beloved teachers. Give them your support. It won’t kill you.