By Tala Clower
Some things can be beautiful when they seem to have no end: a two-lane highway, the midnight sky, a day spent laughing with friends, a line of students filing out of school at 10:00 AM on a Wednesday in March. I experienced the latter on the month anniversary of the Parkland shooting, arguably the most impactful shooting in our history.
In the hour before the walkout, I sat in my desk, fiddling with anything I could get my hands on and trying to listen into the conversations of my neighbors, hoping they would mention the event I was so nervously awaiting. I’m sure we’ve all had that feeling before a protest (or at least, the more introverted of us have had this feeling)–worrying that not enough people would show up, and we would be one of the awkward students standing in a circle, let down by their peers and trying to find a way to still make this be impactful. When the clock struck 10:00, however, my fears were squashed. All but four of the students in my class stood up and joined the throngs of people marching down the hallway to leave the school.
I attended the Women’s March. I’ve gone to Climate Change protests and Minimum Wage gatherings and Black Lives Matter marches. All of these events left me feeling empowered and enlightened, my energy for politics renewed and my hope for humanity somewhat restored. However, none of those feelings compared to what I felt that day walking out of my classroom door to see the halls filled with students. I felt my mind wandering to Parkland, drifting the long way to tearful halls filled with comfort dogs and quiet corners. I remembered crying all those times after the echoes of gunshots fell across newspapers. I remembered the hopelessness I had felt when, a week later, all the politicians had forgotten the funeral preparations going on in towns too far away for them to care and I was left making escape plans during school, just in case. I remembered all those other marches I had been to, which all started with some adult figurehead making promises I knew would not reach DC.
The walkout was different. On Wednesday, thousands of students across the country walked out of their schools because other students like them gave them the hope of change and a new determination. In the wake of death, the Parkland students spoke out, and we all began wondering if we would be that brave in the same situation–and then, we all decided we would not wait for that same situation, but instead be brave now. We didn’t make promises of policy change that none of us would be able to uphold. Instead, we all, collectively, made threats that soon, the ballots would be full of our votes.