Generation Citizen Statement on Today’s March
Today demonstrates not only the importance of student activism, but the value of ensuring that every young person in this country receives an effective civics education.
Today, hundreds of thousands of young people across the country will be marching in the March for our Lives, demanding that public officials address the issue of gun reform. While Generation Citizen does not take policy positions, we are inspired by this activism. But we are not surprised. For every single time we see real change in this country, student activism is at the forefront. From the Lowell Mill Girls of the 1840’s, to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the Civil Rights Movement, to the anti-Apartheid movement in the 80’s, America’s youth have continuously pushed for change. Successfully.
Equally important, public education has historically, yet imperfectly, sought to prepare students for lifelong civic engagement. We see this in the Parkland students- they have cited their AP history teachers, holistic education (including theater education), in giving them the tools they need to be powerful activists in this moment. To take nothing away from the activist leaders, it is indisputable that other young people in this country taking action in their own communities have not been elevated to the same extent as these students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
Today demonstrates not only the importance of student activism, but the imperative to ensure that every young person in this country receives an effective civics education, preparing them to lead change in their own communities. The question is not only what happens today, but what transpires when students return to their classrooms on Monday. We need to ensure that every young person in this country is capable of using, and elevating, their voice.
A’Niya Bankston, one of GC’s Student Leadership Board members, captured this sentiment during the March 14th walk-out at Oakland Technical High School as one of the main speakers.
The inspiring activism of the students demonstrates how important Action Civics is for all students. We believe that all students should be able to organize such a powerful response when they face challenges in their own communities.
As Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Emma Gonzalez said in her remarks at a town hall meeting Wednesday night, teachers were the ones who prepared her and her peers to be able to seize this moment. Schools can help ensure that all young people are prepared to step into this role when needed.
We agree with A’Niya and look forward to working towards a democracy where students and our young people are fully supported – and recognized – as civic actors making essential contributions to our democracy.