Students from Parkland, Florida who survived a deadly school shooting on Valentine's Day of this year are traveling around the country to talk to people about registering to vote. Prairie Public's Danielle Webster has more.
On February 14th of this year, 17 people were killed at a school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Since then, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have organized an effort to have discussions about what can be done to prevent and stop mass shootings. They started with March for Our Lives, a student-led march for tighter gun control measures that was held in March. Now they're on a nationwide bus tour to encourage people to register to vote and have discussions on gun control policy. On their stop in Moorhead, they were greeted by people of all ages who were eager to talk to them about their mission. Cameron Kasky is the founder of March for Our Lives. He says he's frustrated with the current political climate.
"You know, if you want to vote a Republican into office - look at all the other people in office. I don't want everybody in office to agree with me; we can't have an echo chamber. You can't surround yourself in an echo chamber with people that are just going to cheerlead you. That's what Trump does. Trump only surrounds himself with his biggest cheerleaders, and that's how you get that kind of ego. That's how you act on your decisions thinking that no matter what, you're right."
"You're so right on for a young person," one woman said. "You have so much idealism. Keep it up. It's so important. We were idealists when we were your age, and we're still working on it. You can produce change."
Chris Grady is from Parkland, Florida. He says the students want to discuss the issues with people from all political ideologies, which is why they aren't just visiting "blue" areas on the map. He says most of the time people find they have more in common than they thought.
"The main message is, well one - to get people registered to vote, and educated on the issues of gun violence, and then to also just build connections and build unity throughout the country."
Bridget McManamon is a student from Moorhead. She says what the Parkland kids are doing is incredible.
"At our walkout in Moorhead, there were 1,400 students who walked out. We got people registered to vote. These kids were the ones we were looking up to, and to have them here and at a round table where we got to talk to them - it was really mind blowing, but we also got to realize that these are real kids and we can all make a difference. I think it's great how they've found a way to carry this on through social media and now this tour. It's really genius."
Emma Gonzalez is also a student from Parkland. She says helping to educate people about registering to vote is important, but she's also focused on making connections and continuing the conversation about gun violence to hopefully find a solution.
"We're all fighting for the same thing, which is for this to not happen again. We're all fighting in different ways, but we're all gonna get there somehow. The fact that we are reaching out and making these connections is, I think, is very healing, especially for us on the tour actually doing this. We're meeting with people who have similar and shared traumas, and it feels good to know that you're not alone. And in the people that we're visiting validating us, we are validating them."
The Parkland students will continue their cross country bus tour throughout the summer, concluding on August 15.