The Blueprint

American Social Movements: Are They Really Making A Change?

Debesai+and+other+Montgomery+County+student+activists+at+a+March+For+Our+Lives+pre-rally+hosted+by+Congressman+Jamie+Raskin+on+March+24th.+
Debesai and other Montgomery County student activists at a March For Our Lives pre-rally hosted by Congressman Jamie Raskin on March 24th.

Debesai and other Montgomery County student activists at a March For Our Lives pre-rally hosted by Congressman Jamie Raskin on March 24th.

Debesai and other Montgomery County student activists at a March For Our Lives pre-rally hosted by Congressman Jamie Raskin on March 24th.

by Simon Debesai, Assistant Editor

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Simon Debesai is a sophomore at Springbrook High School, and is the Vice President of MoCo (Montgomery County) Students for gun control. The following is an opinion piece that was originally published on CGTV. 

On February 14th, 2018, Nikolas Cruz, a former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student walked into the building and murdered 14 of his classmates and 3 faculty members. In light of the recent tragedy, the victims were able to transform their grief into a movement with an unprecedented level of support. A common devil’s advocate that the opposing forces of this movement use is the fact that marching doesn’t cause tangible change.

As a founding member of Montgomery County Students for Gun Control, I can safely attest that this is far from the truth. After the events that occurred on February 14th, a group of fellow committed students and I decided that we wouldn’t stand by as kids across the nation were gunned down in schools. Thus, the organization Moco Students for Gun Control was formed. Our main priority was to coordinate a countywide school walkout that would converge on the White House, and the Capitol. Our geographical advantage presented us with an opportunity that many students across the nation did not share, the opportunity to assemble peacefully in front of the political behemoths that are the Capitol and the White House. On March 14th, over 2,000 Montgomery County Students gathered at the Capitol along with students from all other nearby districts. There we held a rally where powerful political figures spoke. Namely, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, John Lewis, Jamie Raskin, and Ted Deutsch.

This event was organized solely through the efforts of children. It was children who applied for grants with other organizations. Children who contacted legislators and invited them to speak at the rally. As one of those children, I can speak on behalf of all of us when I say that the Parkland Students have been an inspiration to us all. Their endeavor has spurred all of us to action and allowed us to go from a local coalition of committed students, to a full fledged organization that represented Montgomery County on a national scale. A recurring theme that you can take away from all of our demonstrations is the belief that political efficacy exists within your demographic no matter what your age. Politicians would continuously attempt to belittle and undermine our efforts, claiming that we were “too young to understand,” but in reality, we’re just as educated as any citizen.

The internet is an unparalleled asset. It allowed us to effectively inform those who were interested through social media, as well as educating ourselves on legislation regarding gun reform and discovering which politicians accepted money from the NRA. Those who believe that our protest cannot make a change are sorely mistaken. Change has already begun. Legislators on every level are becoming increasingly more pressured to support gun reform. 70% of the US population supports stricter gun legislation, and the March for Our Lives on March 24th was a testament to this. There were an upwards of one million protesters in DC, all rallying together under a single cause. Protesters of all different color and creed were gathered in DC on that day, and this is due partly to the indiscriminate nature of gun violence. A bullet won’t care whether you’re a republican or a democrat, black or white, or any other flimsy distinction between us. This is a march for all of our lives. Social reform movements of the past were successful due to their consistency as well as their intersectional support, and our movement possesses both of these attributes.

As the Parkland students continue their fight for stricter gun reform, we students will follow in their wake and continue to spread the message of political efficacy throughout all school districts. Come November 6th, we will vote, and bring the normally abysmal 18-29 voter turnout rate to unprecedented levels. Maybe then will everyone see the tangible change they’ve been so desperately grasping at.

 

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American Social Movements: Are They Really Making A Change?