When a gunman smuggled an assault rifle onto a Parkland high school campus last February and killed 17 students and staff members, the country was exposed to another mass shooting.
Some onlookers, including CNN host Chris Cuomo, figured the news cycle would focus on the tragedy but eventually move on.
That didn’t happen.
Almost immediately following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, unlike others before it, the public met a group of young, intense but compassionate ambassadors who would drive news coverage for months.
The student activists behind March For Our Lives — leaders like David Hogg, Cameron Kasky and Emma Gonzalez — forced America to pay attention. And the families of the 17 victims also shared in that spotlight, giving rise to multiple policy proposals and points of view about how to curb gun violence.
The rekindled discussion around school shootings led Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pass gun legislation. Other states followed with legislation of their own.
And while the news cycle eventually did move and the student activists have largely gone their separate ways — some to college, others still in high school — they remain committed to their fight.
Hogg, an 18-year-old graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, filmed interviews with his classmates while the school was locked down during the Valentine’s Day shooting. He was among the first voices heard from on national cable news following the shooting. After participating in the March For Our Lives and a nationwide voter-registration tour, Hogg was accepted into Harvard, where he is scheduled to attend classes in the fall. In the meantime, he participates in speaking events around the country. His events are organized by American Program Bureau, and part of his speaking fee is donated to gun control and social justice causes.
The 19-year-old Stoneman Douglas graduate became a symbol for gun control — her likeness was quickly emblazoned on shirts and pins — following widely popular speeches she gave in the days after the shooting. The first was outside a courthouse in Broward County, when she popularized the phrase, “We call B.S.” when discussing resistance to gun-control efforts. The second was at the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C., where she stood in prolonged silence to recognize the victims of the shooting. While still active on social media in promoting gun control efforts, Gonzalez reportedly plans to attend New College of Florida, a liberal arts school in Sarasota, this fall.
The 18-year-old Stoneman Douglas senior famously challenged Florida Sen. Marco Rubio during a CNN town hall last year, asking Rubio if he would stop accepting campaign cash from the National Rifle Association. Rubio said no. Kasky, the founder of March For Our Lives, graced the cover of Time Magazine with a handful of his fellow student activists but later left the organization he founded to pursue activism on his own. He has turned his efforts in recent months to holding local institutions, like the Broward Sheriff’s Office and Broward County Public Schools, accountable for what he has described as “corruption” and failed actions in preventing and responding to the shooting. His speaking engagements are organized by Creative Artists Agency.
The 18-year-old Stoneman Douglas graduate may join her friend David Hogg at Harvard. Corin, a co-founder of March For Our Lives, was accepted to the school but has not yet announced if she will attend. Corin was an instrumental player in organizing the group’s movements across the state and nationwide, and she has been credited as the group’s lead planner while also giving speeches and acting as one of the faces of Parkland’s gun control movement. She handles speaking engagements through CAA like Kasky.