Van Jones: A children's crusade Jesus would be proud of

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Van Jones is the host of the #VanJonesShow and a CNN political commentator. He is the co-founder of #cut50, a national, bipartisan criminal justice organization fighting to safely and smartly reduce the prison population while keeping communities safe. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)Gun violence is rocking our world again -- and our politics. But even as political rancor runs high, Americans' views are dramatically shifting.

A poll released Tuesday by Quinnipiac shows that 66%, or two-thirds of Americans, now want stricter gun control laws -- the highest recorded by Quinnipiac University since it started polling the issue after Sandy Hook. According to the poll, support for tougher gun laws has jumped almost 20 points since December 2015. It also found a ban on assault weapons was backed by 67% of those surveyed.
Will policymakers take heed? The answer seems to lie in an unlikely place: with our children.
The children of Parkland, Florida, are leading and people are listening. Jesus would be proud.
    Our children, as much as they receive our professions of love, have not always received our respect. In Jesus' time, children had very little status, and yet when his disciples were turning away the children and not allowing them to come receive blessings, Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
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    Centuries later, children began to stand up out of desire to create the future they wanted. Freeman Hrabowski was 12 years old when he was inspired to march in the Birmingham Children's Crusade in 1963. On May 2, masses of children like Freeman left the 16th Street Baptist Church in groups, heading throughout the city to protest segregation peacefully.
    One of their goals was to talk to the mayor of Birmingham about segregation in their city. They were not received well. On the first day of the protest, hundreds of children were arrested. By the second day, Commissioner of Public Safety Bull Connor ordered police to spray the children with powerful water hoses, hit them with batons, and threaten them with police dogs.
    After seeing images of the children under attack, the American people said no more, and business leaders were forced to desegregate downtown Birmingham.
    The future was forever altered and we live in the world they created.
    This week hundreds of Florida schoolchildren are standing up and demanding the creation of a future that is free of gun violence for them and all the children who will follow. This is the Children's Crusade of 2018.
    Let the children come. Let them lead. Let them create the future they demand. Let us help them every step of the way. And let us live in the world they create.