Photo source: Walden School, Louisville, KY.
Author: Roy J. Moore, CEO/Founder of Be Strong
I applaud all of the students who participated in the school walkout yesterday. To you I say well done. Regardless of your position on gun reform, the students used their feet and their voices to express their desire for change. They organized themselves, coordinated their efforts across the country, and believed their views will make a difference. Unlike many other protests, this one was defined by a cause held dear by a group of diverse students acting in unity. I love the fierce and relentless nature of their protest.
I also appreciate the manner in which most walkouts were conducted. Many recognized the victims at MSD, were peaceful, and concluded in under 30 minutes. Message sent. Mic dropped.
To the principals and superintendents who supported the students in their quest to express themselves, I say thank you. Thank you for making the protests that students read about in their history books a reality. Thank you for seeing this as a learning opportunity that will resonate in their hearts and minds for years to come.
To the principals and superintendents who threatened suspension and other penalties for students who participated, you missed the point. You taught the wrong lesson. While you exercised your authority to “maintain control” and avoid a “protest that won’t matter”, you missed a wonderful opportunity to teach a much bigger lesson. What you communicated was that the students’ voices don’t matter, you can’t make a difference, and protests need to stay in the history books and not come alive on your campus. Stay seated, do your work, and just use your thumbs to express your opinion on social media and via texts. Moving forward, my sincere hope is that the next time students want to express their opinion in a civil and respectful manner, as they did this time, that you will support them. Leverage it as a teaching opportunity. Share lessons from the past of successful protests – and those that didn’t succeed. In short, encourage students to write history and not just read about it. Affirm their voices and ignite their courage.