‘Disagree. Interrupt. Argue Back’: High School Students Learn How To How Participate In Government

Apr 9, 2018

Teens across the country have been inspired by the wave of youth activism for gun reform following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. 

In South Florida, a group of students felt it was important for their peers to possess the knowledge and skills necessary to keep the movement going. They created the Young Leaders Summit, an event consisting of mini-seminars designed to teach young people how to participate in government.

Dozens of students attended the Summit on Saturday at the Miami Dade College Kendall campus. Members from groups like Generation Progress,  Resistance School and Dream Defenders taught participants how to organize in order to influence policy on both a local and national level. 

Jaclyn Corin, a junior at Stoneman Douglas and one of the founders of the Never Again Movement, gave the keynote address.

"I have learned more about the government in the last two months [since the shooting] than I probably would have in my entire life," she said. Corin said that during her time as a gun reform activist she has discovered that ignorance about how the government works "is not bliss; it's slowly killing us."

Resistance School member and Harvard Kennedy School graduate student Benjamin Clayton told seminar participants to remember that change happens slowly and to not be discouraged. He closed the session by quoting a famous Martin Luther King Jr. speech: "I know you are asking today, 'How long will it take?'....Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

The student organizers closed the summit by encouraging their peers to volunteer with campaigns ahead of the November elections.