Many thanks to author Ann Braden for administering the site Kid Lit for Kids Lives: “The mission of this project is to support the students who are speaking up for gun law reform. Too often when someone steps up to speak out on this issue, there are people who will try to get them to step down by bullying them and trying to convince them that they don’t know what they’re talking about. We want these teens to remember that we support them, that they DO know what they’re talking about, and that they are doing the right thing.”
I wrote the following open letter for the site after talking with my kids about youth activism, righteous anger, and solidarity, and I hope others will join me in offering words and actions of support, as well.
Dear Parkland Students,
I am a mother of seven children ages four-months-old to twenty-years-old, and over the years our family has had many difficult conversations about mass shootings and schools’ lockdown procedures. Our latest talks have included stories we’ve heard about you and your teachers and families. We are so sorry for the losses you’ve suffered, the trauma you now bear, and for the gross unfairness of the fact that adults have failed to make schools safe for you. We are holding you in our broken hearts.
The work you’re doing to push our government to enact and enforce gun control laws to prevent future mass shootings is necessary, powerful, and very difficult. My family and I are inspired by the strength you’ve displayed, the courage you’ve mustered, and the determination you’ve shown in the face of violence, disdain, and outright lies. We hope each of you has many people looking out for you and your day-to-day wellbeing, and we encourage you to draw strength from the young people who came before you in struggles to defend what Mr. Biegel’s mother reminded everyone at the CNN town meeting are “the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
I told my school-aged kids that we will support their participation in acts of solidarity with you, and I asked them to think about other young people in whose footsteps you are walking as you “call bs” and use your righteous anger like rocket fuel. We talked about the Children’s March in Birmingham in 1963, the bravery of Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, and other young people who challenged legal segregation, and the tenacity of the young people leading the Black Lives Matter movement today, among others. May you find comfort and inspiration from their examples, knowing that you are not alone today in your struggle to create change, and that a long history of youth activism is with you, too.
We wish you peace, we wish you wholeness, we wish you empowerment and triumph. We are with you.
Megan Dowd Lambert, author, teacher, mother