Young People at the Forefront of Change

Malana Rogers-Bursen
April 3, 2018

On March 14th tens of thousands of students, possibly as many as a million, walked out of their classrooms to protest gun violence.

Then on March 24th, 800,000 people marched in Washington DC to call for gun control. Many more attended local marches throughout the country. The marches were intergenerational and racially diverse, and mainly organized and led by young people. We also know that young people of color have been leading the work to end police violence, including calling for justice in the recent shooting of Stephon Clark.

We have a history of school walkouts and student activism in the United States, which have led to positive and needed changes.

One thing is clear – young people are deciding that their voice matters, and the country is starting to listen.

Parkland youth have acknowledged that the attention their movement is getting is also a result of their race and class privilege. Earlier this month, they met with Chicago youth who know the daily effects of gun violence. They have voiced their intention to use their own platform to uplift the stories of gun violence in communities of color

Student walkout in SeattleAlthough the school walkouts may seem new, we actually have a history of school walkouts and student activism in the United States, which have led to positive and needed changes:  

Some lessons from the #NeverAgain movement:

  • Young people have important ideas and leadership that needs to be heard and followed. Throughout our history, young people have spoken up and have made a difference.
  • Adults have an important role to play. We can support youth to think about how they want to lead and advocate and how to build authentic intergenerational partnerships to address important issues.
  • We can all learn from past struggles. Student activism is not new. How can we connect the lessons from the past and from today to strengthen student-led actions? 

This movement highlights the importance of Everyday Democracy’s core principles of inclusivity and equity. To organize a broad movement, we need to listen to the voices that have traditionally been marginalized and excluded.  


Photo courtesy Seattle City Council


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