News Announcer: A high school in Parkland, Florida became the scene of chaos just before the end of the school day.
911 Dispatcher: Possible shots fired at Stoneman Douglas High School.
News Announcer: One of the worst school shootings in US history.
News Announcer: And while so many tears are being shed, so many voices are also being raised.
News Announcer: They mourn, but they are demanding action.
News Announcer: The largest youth-led protest since the Vietnam War era.
News Announcer: A lot of the young people participating, not even old enough to vote.
News Announcer: A moment that is now launched a movement.
Arielle Geismar: No one becomes an activist because they feel like it or they want to. It’s out of necessity. It’s because we’re fighting for our lives.
We will fight because if we are old enough to be affected by gun violence, we’re old enough to have an opinion about it.
Gun violence is a national epidemic, but our generation is harnessing the power of our own voice to fight back, and we’re gonna make a change.
Ethan Asher: When the Parkland students got on stage and said, this is not a moment, it’s a movement. They meant it, and that’s really what we took to heart here. This is our time to say something and our time to stand up, and we’re not gonna just be quiet and let it happen anymore. As far as March of Our Lives goes, there’s no wizard behind the curtain. There’s no adult controlling it and making the decisions. It’s all young people on the front lines in charge, and it means that there are now advocates all over Georgia working to make change on this issue.
The emotion of the march and of the day of the march, it was just so powerful. There’s not a lot of things to describe what it’s like to be in front of 70,000 people. Being on the front lines with John Lewis, who knows a thing or two about marching. It makes you think about why you’re really doing it and about why everyone is there.
And now there’s 70,000 people standing outside of the state capitol demanding a change in the laws and a change in the way we think about guns and a change in the culture. Largest protests in the state of Georgia ever, and that’s not something that you get to ignore or get to brush off.
Arielle Geismar: We are here because we know we can make a change. We’ve already seen what we can do. Our voices do matter. Enough is enough.
That day, the feeling I had was incredible. You’re standing there with all these people in front of you, and you’re seeing the power of giving someone a voice. That’s really where the central idea for Empower The People came from.
Empower The People is a non-profit, nonpartisan, student-led organization dedicated to giving youth the tools and resources necessary to stand up and speak out about issues they care about. In every state across the country, Empower The People as working with students in both middle and high schools to teach them about what’s going on in their government and society and help them take action steps around these issues.
Passion is important, but it’s lost if there’s no action. We’re here to help you figure out how to contact your representatives, make a poll, make a survey, hold a press conference, hold a rally.
Over the course of the past year, we’ve gotten the chance to work with thousands of teens from across the country, and now we’re seeing them working with their congressional members, working with the media news outlets to actually make their voices heard.
Today we stand here not only as kids but also as leaders in the world of civic engagement alongside other countless incredible leaders, including all of you. Embrace change and use it to elevate your voice, your message, and your passion.