Former President Barack Obama has again lauded the students of Parkland, Florida, writing that they “are shaking us out of our complacency.”
“America’s response to mass shootings has long followed a predictable pattern,” the 44th president wrote in an entry published Thursday in Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” list. “This time, something different is happening. This time, our children are calling us to account.”
“Seared by memories of seeing their friends murdered at a place they believed to be safe, these young leaders don’t intimidate easily,” Obama wrote of the students, specifically Cameron Kasky, Jaclyn Corin, David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, and Alex Wind.
“The Parkland, Fla., students don’t have the kind of lobbyists or big budgets for attack ads that their opponents do. Most of them can’t even vote yet,” Obama noted. “But they have the power so often inherent in youth: to see the world anew; to reject the old constraints, outdated conventions and cowardice too often dressed up as wisdom. The power to insist that America can be better.”
In the wake of a mass shooting at their high school in February that left 17 dead, the students have undertaken a major organizing campaign, calling on lawmakers to enact stricter gun control laws and rallying victims of gun violence in nationwide “March for Our Lives” events last month. Obama, who has been a vocal proponent of their efforts, praised the impact of the student’s work so far, but acknowledged that “now it gets harder.”
“A Republican Congress remains unmoved. NRA scare tactics still sway much of the country. Progress will be slow and frustrating,” he wrote. “But by bearing witness to carnage, by asking tough questions and demanding real answers, the Parkland students are shaking us out of our complacency.”
Obama also praised the work of Black Lives Matter and the “Dreamers,” writing that “our kids now show us what we’ve told them America is all about … that our future isn’t written for us, but by us.”