KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Students of St. Teresa’s Academy held an organized walkout Wednesday to advocate for gun control and to honor Parkland shooting victims and others who have suffered as a result of school shootings.
Participation in the walkout was completely voluntary. Those who did not wish to join gathered in the school’s auditorium.
Watch the walkout and the students who spoke in the video player above.
“No matter your thoughts on gun control, being out here with us means you know there must be change. As students we can make a difference and today is a testament to that. The point of this walkout is to inspire all of you and to draw attention to gun violence,” said one student speaker.
She then directed them, if they hadn’t already, to sign the petition supporting ‘sensible gun restrictions and calling for the end of the gun lobby from controlling government officials’.
During the walkout, participating students gathered in the campus quad to hear presentations from fellow students about gun control and how they can get involved. State representatives and city officials were invited to attend and participate. One of those elected leaders who stepped up to the podium was Scott Taylor, Kansas City council member.
“At the city level, we’ve been advocating for change but gun laws are controlled at the state level and in Congress. While we’ve been advocating loudly for you they’re not listening and so I really want to applaud you for standing up today, for getting your message out because I think they will listen to you, so give yourselves a round of applause,” said Taylor.
Just after 3 p.m. the crowd of students erupted when Mayor Sly James arrived. James walked through the mass of students, shaking hands as he passed by on his approach to the podium.
Mayor James drew parallels to the social activism he experienced in his youth during the 1960s to the action he is seeing today.
“You have more power than you even know. You can do what you want to do,” James said to the students. “But you have to be smart. You have to be smarter than the adults that are going to try and put something over on you. You can’t give them an excuse to discount what you say.”
James emphasized that even though many of the students gathered are too young to vote right now, the future that they are fighting for is their own.
“I’m at an age where it won’t be mine for very much longer. It will be yours for a lot longer. You have to decide what country you want to live in, what are the rules going to be,” James said. “Are we going to have streets where any idiot in the world, anybody who wants one, can have a gun and use it in any way?”
“You have the ability, the right, and the power to decide what this country is going to be like when it’s time for you to take over and run it. Don’t waste this opportunity,” he added. “When you’re standing in front of another group of kids when you’re 66 years old like I am, I want you to be able to say that you did your part to make their lives better.”
Organizers also shared a list of other methods to stay involved, including the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C., on March 24; and the National High School Walkout planned for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School school shootings in Littleton. Colorado, in 1999.
The walkout was organized by St. Teresa’s Academy students passionate about the issue of gun control and members of the school’s Human Dignity, Social Justice, and Cultural Diversity Clubs.
“We cannot move on and forget about those who have died and the tragedies that have happened just because too much time has passed or other events distract us. We must push our leaders and each other to fight for justice, safety, and peace. We can fight with love, make a difference in big or small ways,” said Liv Davison, a junior at St. Teresa’s Academy, in a news release.