Students from the Parkland, Florida, high school where 17 people were killed by a 19-year-old gunman, spoke at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at Harvard Kennedy School on Tuesday (March 20). The six—Matt and Ryan Deitsch, Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky, and Alex Wind—have been among a group of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and alumni at the forefront of a growing national movement calling for gun control. The students visited Harvard just days before they travel to Washington for a major march on gun control. Before Tuesday’s Forum event, the students met with President Drew Faust and students and faculty from around Harvard. The event was moderated by Meighan Stone, senior fellow in the Council on Foreign Relations’ Women and Foreign Policy Program and former president of the Malala Fund.
“It's important that we have these moments of silence to remember these individuals, but I think it's just as important to speak up. We have been silent for too long as a nation. We've allowed these things to continue for too long. ... What's important is that we make sure that we speak up to these congressmen and these state legislators and let them know that this is what their constituents want. And if you choose not to vote on the side of student lives, that's completely up to you, and if you choose not to vote on the side of human lives that are innocently taken every year, that's OK, because we’ll vote you out. It's as simple as that."
"I was in the car on the way home after my father picked my little brother and I up after what happened on Valentine’s Day. I was listening to the news, and I was looking at my phone and seeing what was going on, and I started to realize I’ve seen this before. I've seen this happen countless times, and what happens is we get two weeks in the news, we get a bundle of thoughts and prayers, everybody sends flowers, and then it's over. ... We said, no, you’re not controlling our narrative, you are not telling our story, we were there, we are telling our story, we see what's going on here ... we see past this facade that this is inevitable and this is the price of our freedom. We know that we can fix this but we have to start now."
“This is so important, to be completely bipartisan about this, because bullets don't discriminate either, so why should we? If a bullet can catch you no matter who you are, what color skin you have, which gender you are, what position you play in life, how old you are, then why should we discriminate against who should be protected?”
"What happened at our school, in the end it's not different from what happened in Orlando and Las Vegas and Columbine and Sandy Hook and Aurora. They’re all tragedies. The difference here is that we are the ones that were locked inside the closets texting our parents what could have been our final 'I love you’s.' We were the ones that were sitting there praying that when we heard knocks on our door and the glass shatter that it wasn’t a shooter, that it was the police."
"We’re always taught that the Civil Rights movement is something that happened in the past, and that change doesn’t really happen in today’s society. But that’s not true. We can see change every day if we just put our minds to it."