Archived Opinion

Student protestors deserve gratitude

Student protestors deserve gratitude

I’ve always admired those who speak out, those who have opinions and feel compelled to share them.

I’ve been to countless county and town board meetings and covered many political events and rallies over my career as a journalist. The speakers who stand and deliver passionate and sometimes poetic arguments on heartfelt issues always win my admiration, even those whose points I disagree with.

This past weekend, hundreds of thousands of students and adults marched, made signs, and gave speeches to support safer schools and reasonable gun control measures. And last week, students from across the country marked the one-month anniversary of the Parkland, Florida, shootings with walkouts and vigils for the dead.

Sure, some of those youthful marchers made naïve remarks, but that is to be expected. All of them, though, were participating in a uniquely American privilege: the yearning for a better country and the sincere belief that we as citizens can make it so. If this country is indeed a grand experiment, then events such as these over the last couple of weeks leave me hopeful for our future.

This outpouring came from young Americans whose civic life is in its fledgling stage. They took the initiative, spurred on by their desire for change, to march and speak out. I saw posts from many young ladies from this region, and I was proud of them for making the effort.

On the other hand, I was angered by all those who found ways to demean them. Much of that criticism came from those who don’t support stricter gun laws, and it’s OK to have different views. But I heard too many adults laughing and snickering at the marchers as if they were just uninformed and ignorant.

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And perhaps those youths were ignorant to the reality that too many politicians are bought and paid for by groups like the NRA, that too many politicians are more worried about staying in office rather than voting for what their heart may tell them is the right course of action. I’ll take that naivete any day over the cynicism of most of their critics.

The truth is that taking to the streets in peaceful protest to stand for safety in our schools is quite simply a very meaningful and courageous thing to do. More power to them, and here’s hoping we get to the future they’re hoping to create.

(Scott McLeod can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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