Opinion

Teen Activists to Young Hill Aides: Stand With Us

Civil rights advocates call on young congressional staffers to end gun carnage

Student protesters in Montgomery County — including MoCo Students for Change founder Brenna Levitan, left, and co-president Dani Miller, second from right — join a national walkout on March 14. (Courtesy William Ahn)

Dear Capitol Hill staffers:

These past few months have been a milestone time in America. Not since the student civil rights movement in the ’60s has our country seen such mass mobilization of young people.

Even more notable is that this mass mobilization is coming at an important time in our politics: We, the young people, are fighting for a safer America during midterms. And this year, we are voting.

After being failed by previous generations, our generation has decided that we need to take our safety into our own hands. It has been six years since 20 children were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and Congress has rejected almost every attempted gun safety measure. It has been made increasingly clear that when it comes to the issue of gun violence, adults wholeheartedly will not step up and protect us.

The youth movement to stop gun violence has been making waves nationwide, pressuring our politicians to fight for us through protests, walkouts, sit-ins and acts of civil disobedience.

However, we cannot fight this fight on our own. To accomplish our goal, we need to come together across the political spectrum.

No movement has ever been successful through just one method of action. We are the descendants of great movement builders such as John Lewis and Martin Luther King Jr. The civil rights movement would not have been as successful if Dr. King had only met with President Kennedy and President Johnson, without pairing his meetings with boycotts and marches. On the flip side, we would not be where we are today if Rep. John Lewis had just performed acts of civil disobedience and not run for office.

We are experts at pressuring change from the outside looking in, but it is time to think about this movement from the inside looking out.

This is where you come in. As young people working on Capitol Hill, you have the unparalleled opportunity to influence policy and change. You have the power to push policies that will save lives, and pressure Congress to represent the American people over the gun lobby’s money.

You probably became a staffer because you want to effect change from the inside — dive into politics headfirst and see how you can influence the landscape of our country.

This is your chance. We, the young people, are calling on you to stand with us. Talk to your bosses about commonsense gun legislation. Join us in protests and marches. Use your position to represent your fellow youth at meetings and in your office.

We may not be able to count on adults to protect us, but we can lean on each other. After all, whether on the inside looking out or the outside looking in, all of us are equal in the voting booth.

Sincerely, Dani Miller and Michael Solomon, Presidents of MoCo Students for Change Nate Tinbite, Ruby Brayton, and Simon Debesai, Vice Presidents of MoCo Students for Change

‘Vote Them Out’: Thousands March on Washington to Protest Inaction on Gun Violence

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