How March for Our Lives ignited a generation by voting for the first time: NPR

NPR’s Adrian Florido chats with Parkland student and March for Our Lives co-founder David Hogg, on the fifth anniversary of the first march, about the triumphs and challenges of the fight for gun reform .


Five years ago today, on March 24, 2018, hundreds of thousands of people, many of them teenagers, took to the streets of Washington to demand an end to gun violence. It was the first March for Our Lives, a protest that grew out of the February 14 tragedy of the same year in Parkland, Florida, when a gunman entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and shot and killed 17 students and staff. .


It was the survivors of that Parkland shooting — high school students furious at what they and their classmates had just experienced — who organized this historic march and a movement to address gun violence that continues today. One of those survivors was David Hogg. At 17, he became one of the faces and voices of the movement. He’s 22 now, and he says he’s still angry.

DAVID HOGG: I’m so mad at my past and the other young people who were with us and the young people who walked with us across the country and around the world, because it really shouldn’t be for the kids to tell the adults come together. It shouldn’t be up to the kids to say that we deserve the right to survive math class.

KELLY: Our colleague Adrian Florido sat down with David Hogg today and asked him whether in the five years since he helped start March For Our Lives, whether he’s gotten harder or more easy to involve young people in the cause.

HOGG: I think it probably got easier, unfortunately. And the reason I say it’s unfortunate is because it’s gotten easier because the gun violence has gotten worse. More people are affected by this now than when we started in 2018. And I guess one of the non-unfortunate reasons why it’s become easier to recruit young people is because I think March For Our Lives helped to a major cultural shift for our generation where, you know, it’s sort of an expectation that you care about politics or care about the issues that affect us, that are literally killing us in our communities and in our schools each day. And as a result of that, there are more people who want to be involved.

We have young candidates for state legislature, for example, like a young man named Jasper Martis in the Michigan state legislature who got involved in politics when he was only , I think, 17 years with the first March for our lives. He went to MSU, graduated, and now, after the shooting at MSU, he ran for office after graduating and is now one of Michigan’s youngest state reps. It’s people like Maxwell Frost, who are also helping to lead this change and inspiring our generation to step up and get involved on the inside too, as he previously worked with March For Our Lives as the first national director of the ‘organization. And now he’s the youngest member of Congress. Fortunately and unfortunately, things got easier.

ADRIAN FLORIDO, BYLINE: You’ve had some local and even federal success with gun control, but nothing close to the kind of substantive gun control you’d like to see. What was the most frustrating part of this job for you?

HOGG: How long do you have? We have historically been very responsive. When there is a shooting, the country is furious, and people want to do something urgently and act now. We have to get out before there’s a shooting and show up regularly every year. The gun lobby and gun rights activists show up with a few hundred people to state legislatures every year, and they flood their call lines. They show up for all the hearings and all that kind of stuff. And unless there’s been a major shooting in the past year, that doesn’t happen often with our movement, not as often as it should.

And we need those parents who say to me, wow, my generation really messed up, but we’re glad you kids are here to save us, we need those parents to show up with us and not just to say, OK, like, the kids have it. We don’t. We are young. And we are fiery. And we really want to change. But we cannot do it alone. We need people of all ages and backgrounds, races, ethnicities and incomes to run with us in state legislatures to help proactively create this change so that you don’t become a crime prevention activist. gun violence after losing your child or sibling to gun violence.

FLORIDO: What has been the most rewarding part of this job for you?

HOGG: Last year, I did kitchen cabinet calls in my dining room every Thursday morning at 9 a.m. for Maxwell Frost. He was a long-time candidate. And 48 hours ago, I was in his office for the first time in Washington, DC, in Congress. And I was there with Patricia and Mandy Oliver, the parents of Joaquin Oliver, who died when he was 17 when he was murdered in my high school – after his family, mind you, came here to flee violence in Venezuela in Parkland, only to have their son killed.

And they said how difficult it is, obviously, to go through what they went through losing a child to gun violence, but how much hope at the same time it gave them to see the legacy of Joaquin as they spoke live in March For Our Lives activists and the movement and people like Maxwell are now going to Congress because their whole philosophy from the start has been that Joaquin is not a victim, it’s an activist. And to see them cry over the fact that we are now sitting in the youngest member of the congressional office that comes straight from March For Our Lives. Yes, this work is very hard. We have many setbacks. And it’s going to take a long time to get out of it. But I know that if people like the Olivers can keep doing it and thousands of other parents across the country who are in a similar position to them can keep doing it, the rest of the movement can. Also.

FLORIDO: I spoke with David Hogg, one of the founding members and board member of March For Our Lives. Thank you for joining us.

HOGG: Of course. THANKS.

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