Teens Clap Back At The Idea That They're Too Young To Be Involved In Politics

"If you don’t think that we should be involved, [eff] you, we are still going to do it.”

March 14 marked one of the largest teen demonstrations in this nation's history, the National School Walkout. One million students across the country took part in walkouts, demanding that their voices be heard and for gun violence to end. There were even kids as young as 8 taking part.

The National School Walkout is just a small part of the wave of activism that led by Generation Z. For these kids, the Parkland shooting was the straw that broke the camel's back and they are using their collective voices to say enough

We talked to six teens who not only participated in the walkouts but who also went to the March For Our Lives National Student Walkout Rally - NYC, and asked them what they wanted to share with those who criticized their participation.

Lane Murdock, 15

Katie Ward/A Plus
Katie Ward/A Plus

The upcoming National High School Walkout For Anti-Gun Violence taking place on April 20 is being spearheaded by Lane Murdock who, inspired by the student activism in Parkland, created a petition on Change.org advertising the walkout.

"When a school shooting happens, we're the ones getting shot, yet we virtually have no voice. So I think it's important that we let people know that we're here, and we have rights, and we have a voice," she told A Plus of her motivations for creating the petition.

Young people, she believes, have a unique advantage in their advocacy for gun control: they aren't interested in lobbyists' cash.

"We're not going to be bought over by money," she said. "We are going to fight for what we truly believe in. I think it shows that kids know they have a voice and we are willing to use it."

And as for the adults (like Fox News host Tucker Carlson) who have responded to the groundswell of student activism by saying that kids shouldn't be involved in politics? Murdock stresses that the changes she's fighting for are those that affect her and her peers directly.

"How could we not be involved? I've had lockdown drills my whole life," she said. "I have been living in fear that something like this might happen to me my whole life... So how could we not have a right to have a voice in this?"

Sanai James, 13 and Rosalba Bujanda, 13

Katie Ward/A Plus
Katie Ward/A Plus

High school students Sanai James and Rosalba Bujanda came out to the Brooklyn event with a group of their peers after the morning's protest to continue to push for change.

"Sometimes I'm afraid of change, but this is change that needs to happen," James told A Plus. "Some people have gone through this and if you put yourself in their shoes, and if you have empathy for them, you would want the change as well. Going to school in Times Square is very scary. It's a risk going out and going back to school. So I feel like if those people went through this they would want change just as much as the average person." 

"Those people who are afraid of change are afraid that minorities are going to take over," Bujanda chimed in. "But all we ask for equality and we need to let them know that no gun is more important than a person's life. It's not debatable. You cannot fight hate with hate, you have to fight hate with love, and you have to spread that around. Because if not, this country is going to go nowhere."

Nupol Kiazolu, 17

Katie Ward/A Plus
Katie Ward/A Plus

Nupol Kiazolu has been an activist since the age of 13. The National School Walkout is not her first protest, and it won't be her last. As the president of the Youth Coalition for Black Lives Matter NY, she says knows the impact her generation can make. And she's going to fight for it.

Kiazolu gave an inspiring speech at the rally, notes of which echoed in her conversation with A Plus.

"We have to mobilize and be in the streets. Not just today. Don't just wait for a tragedy to strike for us to be in these streets. Stay on the ground. Stay mobilizing. Keep organizing. Unity and solidarity is so important. And also knowledge, that's our most powerful tool," she said. 

She also had a clear message to those who think she is too young to be involved: "I've been doing this since I was 13 years old. Now I'm 17, and I would like to believe that I've accomplished a lot. Youth are the backbone of this country. We are the future leaders and politicians and lawyers and doctors. If you don't think that we should be involved, fuck you, we are still going to do it."

Chris Stauffer, 17

Katie Ward/A Plus
Katie Ward/A Plus

Christ Stauffer, a vice chair at the Youth Progressive Policy Group, helped to host the rally. Stauffer dedicates his spare time to advocating for social issues including voting rights and criminal justice reform. 

He is currently trying to get a bill passed that would lower the voting age in New York, and says that his generation may just have the capacity to one of history's most impactful. "

I think the energy we've seen today, and the energy we've seen in the last few weeks, and that we'll see in the coming months have really shown what young people can do in our country," he told A Plus.

Stauffer went on to hit back at the movement's critics and those that believe that kids should focus on tests and homework, not the legislative process. He pointed out that not only are student activists incredibly informed because of the internet, they're also following in a long, proud tradition of young people taking the lead in social change.

"I think they should look back to every social movement in the last 300 years that have been spearheaded by young people," he said. "I think they should look back to the American revolution that was spearheaded by young people. To the civil rights movement that was spearheaded by young people."

Brandon Charles, 16

Katie Ward/A Plus
Katie Ward/A Plus

Brandon Charles is no stranger to activism. He is a youth leader at Make The Road New York, which pushes for high school reform, police accountability, and action on gentrification.

He dismissed out of hand the idea that the kids who walked out were just trying to skip class.

"We came out here in the bitter cold not just to walk out of school or anything but to be here to support the 17 and all the lives lost to gun violence," he told A Plus. "So at the end of the day, you believe what you believe, but we will make a stand here today.... Nobody is ever too young to make a difference."

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