Emma González … ‘These young people will not sit in classrooms waiting.’ Photograph: Jonathan Drake/Reuters
Half a century ago, on March 7, 1965, state troopers beat down men and women who were participating in a peaceful march for voting rights in Selma, Alabama. That same day, radio listeners around the country might have heard Sam Cooke singing a song he had written and recorded several months earlier, but which could have been describing the “Bloody Sunday” confrontation on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
There have been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long
But now I think I’m able to carry on
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will.
In “A Change Is Gonna Come,” Sam Cooke moves from bigotry and bloodshed to hope and beauty in barely three minutes. If you listen to the record today, you will hear a story that continues to be relevant. (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wEBlaMOmKV4)
Sam Cooke’s rough, sweet voice — a voice that is blues-born and church-bred, beat down but up again and marching — still rings.
A changs IS gonna come . . .
That message of hope rings out still in these troubling days through the passion-filled voice of Emma González, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as she addresses a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale just days after a gunman entered her school in Parkland and killed 17 people.
A change IS gonna come . . .
We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks. Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because . . . we are going to be the last mass shooting. We are going to change the law. That’s going to be Marjory Stoneman Douglas in that textbook and it’s going to be due to the tireless effort of the school board, the faculty members, the family members and most of all the students. The students who are dead, the students still in the hospital, the student now suffering PTSD, the students who had panic attacks during the vigil because the helicopters would not leave us alone, hovering over the school for 24 hours a day.
If the President wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association. You want to know something? It doesn’t matter, because I already know. Thirty million dollars. — Emma González
A change Is gonna come . . .
Just hours after the mass shooting, other students turned to social media to discuss gun control.
Guns give these disgusting people the ability to kill other human beings. This IS about guns. — Carly Novell, a 17-year-old senior; editor of the school’s quarterly magazine.
We need to do something. We need to get out there and be politically active. Congress needs to get over their political bias with each other and work toward saving children. We’re children. You guys are the adults. — David Hogg, 17, a senior; Stoneman Douglas student news director
Wherever you bump into someone, there is the fear that they’re the next shooter, and every bell is a gunshot. I feel like some change is going to come of this. — Daniela Palacios, 16, a sophomore at another Broward County High School at her first protest.
A change IS gonna come . . .
And it will be our bold and compassionate children who will lead this nation into that change. Like so many Americans, I was disconsolate when watching the TV news of yet another school shooting. But then I started watching the students, and I saw the girl with the buzzcut, Emma González, wiping back her tears, mourning her dead classmates while demanding change.
Like her schoolmates, Emma is in trauma, but she is organizing. She and many of her classmates are directly challenging the donations of the National Rifle Association to Trump and other politicians. There will be school strikes. There will be organized resistance. These young people will not sit in classrooms any more. They refuse to become another tragic statistic. “We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks,” said a weeping González.
As I remembered this week what happened at Sandy Hook, at Columbine, at Westside, a school in my own state, I remembered feeling anger and despair. But today, for first time in a long time, I feel hope. I see true leadership as kids are standing up for one another and fighting for their lives.
Let us stand courageously beside these children, our children, and do what we can to create change . . . letters to Congress, phone calls, posts on social media, marches and demonstrations, hand-lettered signs, letters to the editor, VOTING for change. What can you do?
Emma González, Daniela Palácios, David Hogg, Carly Novell . . . and thousands of other children who are crying out, ENOUGH!
They give me hope.
A change is gonna come!
May God ennoble each of us to make it so.