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March 1, 2020
Vol. 77
No. 6

Relevant Read / Hearing Survivors' Voices Two Years After Parkland

Social-emotional learning
School Culture
Relevant Read / Hearing Survivors' Voices Two Years After Parkland thumbprint
Glimmer of Hope: How Tragedy Sparked a Movement by The Founders of March for Our Lives (Penguin Random House, 2018)
"In the days after the shooting, it was strange seeing adults not immediately scoff at our youth. For what seemed the first time in my life, they wanted to broadcast the words of young people."
So writes Emma Gonazlez, one activist among many from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who spearheaded a movement for gun law reform in the months after their school experienced a mass shooting on February 14, 2018. In Glimmer of Hope, 25 contributors (almost all students or alumni from the school) describe how the weeks after the shooting unfolded and how a group of traumatized teens channeled rage and grief into supporting each other (with just a few at first gathering at student Cameron Kasky's home, gradually attracting more) and resisted becoming "statistics."
In chapters covering all aspects of the activists' ongoing efforts, we see these teens pushing themselves to take political action, respond to media requests, and express to adults their anger and refusal to become, as Kasky writes, the "flavor-of-the-month mass school shooting."
Teachers might share excerpts from this powerful book to show what finding a voice feels like, internally, including these teens' uncertainty on whether steps like creating a hashtag movement would make anything happen and how energized they felt by the outpouring of support that came through social media ("We felt pressure to do something with that energy"). Some of the students had prior leadership experience. Others did not but became leaders in a movement that led to gun-control marches in Washington, D.C., and worldwide, because mobilizing felt empowering after their trauma. As Gonzalez writes, "Thinking about anything other than planning the March and the solutions for the future was to have a breakdown."

Naomi Thiers is the managing editor of Educational Leadership.

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