On Thursday, October 25, 2018, a group of Saint Mary's students attended a book talk about Glimmer of Hope: How Tragedy Sparked a Movement, written by the founders of the March for Our Lives movement. Two of the authors, Delaney Tarr '18 and Sarah Chadwick '19, of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., spoke on a panel moderated by North Carolina State University professor Rupert Nacoste.
In their book, Glimmer of Hope, each member of the organization speaks on a different aspect of their journey. This approach allows the unique voices of each activist to be heard and appreciated. As Sarah and Delaney, both survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, clearly expressed, this is important because it takes a group of passionate and diverse people to create a movement. Both girls emphasized to the audience that they were simply ordinary teenagers who had gone through a terrible ordeal and decided to do something about it. In fact, the March for Our Lives movement started with 25 teenagers sitting on a living room floor. Any one of us with a drive for justice could do the same.
In light of the two major shootings that happened recently, including the Pittsburgh synagogue attack killing 11 people, and the murder of a black couple in a Kroger's store in Kentucky, what Sarah and Delaney shared about their experiences at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School brought gun violence into perspective. Although gun violence has been an issue for decades, it is more relevant now than ever due to the accessibility of automatic weapons and the laws of many states. It is terrifying to think shootings now happen in our schools, streets, places of worship, and grocery stores. Because of the frequency of mass shootings, the news coverage has become hackneyed, and small events are left out of reporting completely.
During the panel, when asked about how they, as teenagers, were able to successfully make momentous change, both Sarah and Delaney were very adamant about how the "bad" labels associated with their generation, Generation Z, are actually their best strengths. In the creation of the march, their "Twitter brains" and technology addiction proved to be one of their most useful tools. Generation Z's advanced technological skills help us to navigate the modern world, speak up, and create complex networks. In just seconds, The March for Our Lives movement was able to notify thousands of people with a single tweet. Power comes in numbers, and nothing is more effective for the purpose of reaching large audiences than the Internet.
The March for Our Lives movement very effectively used the media stage they were given after the Parkland shooting to bring other perspectives about the gun violence problem to light. They have shared that platform with groups and activists including Naomi Wadler, Edna Chavez, Chicago's Peace Warriors, and Christopher Underwood. The March for Our Lives isn't just about Parkland, or even about only school shootings. It isn't about placing a spotlight on Parkland. It is about all types of gun violence in our country.
All it takes to be an activist and to make a difference is passion and perseverance. The latter is something that came up time and time again in the Quail Ridge Books' panel discussion. Although the March for Our Lives was an abundantly successful rally, in the planning process countless people told the organizers it was impossible to create an event of that size in only a month – yet they made it happen. Once again, nobody thought the book could come together as soon as it did, but nothing held them back. Yes, this is partly teenage angst – with them wanting to prove everyone wrong, but that is just one more "bad" characteristic that became one of their chief strengths.
Glimmer of Hope is a call to the young people of our country, and of the world, to educate themselves and take a stand for what they believe in. Politics aside, this is simply a matter of safety, and quite frankly for some this is a matter of life or death. It is unfortunate that this is the world we are growing up in, but this is the country we are about to inherit. As we enter into the adult world, we will be responsible for making the change we wish to see happen. The March for Our Lives founders urge us to educate ourselves and use our voices and votes to make a difference.
"Vote. Your life depends on it."
- Delaney Tarr
Marjory Stoneman Douglas Class of 2018