Barack and Michelle Obama penned a letter to the “inspiring” students of Parkland, Florida, in the wake of the tragic school shooting last month that left 17 dead and launched a national conversation on gun violence.
In the letter, dated March 10, the former President and first lady wrote that the students’ leadership has “helped awaken the conscience of the nation.”
Many of the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and students around the country have channeled their grief into fighting the gun lobby, making impassioned pleas on television, meeting with lawmakers and preparing for a nationwide protest dubbed “March for our Lives,” which will take place in Washington this Saturday.
A source familiar with the letter, previously reported by Mic, confirmed its authenticity.
“We wanted to let you know how inspired we have been by the resilience, resolve, and solidarity that you have all shown in the wake of unspeakable tragedy. Not only have you supported and comforted each other, but you’ve helped awaken the conscience of the nation, and challenged decision-makers to make the safety of our children the country’s top priority,” the handwritten note said.
The letter continued, “We have no doubt you are going to make an enormous difference in the days and years to come, and we will be there for you.”
The Obama presidency saw many tragic mass shootings in the US, including the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, two shootings at Fort Hood, the Tucson shooting that injured then-Rep. Gabby Giffords, the Aurora movie theater shooting, the Washington Navy Yard shooting, a Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin, the Charleston church shooting and the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
One day after the Parkland attack, the former President called for “common-sense gun safety laws” in a tweet.
The former President and first lady have previously expressed praise for the Parkland students.
He tweeted later last month, “Young people have helped lead all our great movements. How inspiring to see it again in so many smart, fearless students standing up for their right to be safe; marching and organizing to remake the world as it should be. We’ve been waiting for you. And we’ve got your backs.”
And the former first lady wrote, “I’m in total awe of the extraordinary students in Florida. Like every movement for progress in our history, gun reform will take unyielding courage and endurance. But @barackobama and I believe in you, we’re proud of you, and we’re behind you every step of the way.”