FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — When the shooter in the 2018 Parkland school massacre finally pleaded guilty last month, it briefly revived attention and donations for the anti-gun violence March For Our Lives student movement birthed by the tragedy.
It also dredged up personal trauma for many of young activists, though most are now hundreds of miles away at college.
Jaclyn Corin, 21, one of the group’s original organizers and now a Harvard junior, stayed off social media the week of the shooter’s court proceedings to avoid painful memories. But well-intentioned loved ones texted constantly to provide support, unwittingly making it impossible for her to ignore.
“I try my best not to think about him and the violence that he inflicted, but it’s incredibly hard to do that when someone who ruined your life and the lives of literally everyone in your community is trending on social media.”
In the initial months after the shooting that killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the teenagers amassed one of the largest youth protests in history in Washington and rallied more than a million activists in sister marches from California to Japan. They made the cover of Time magazine and raised millions to fund March For Our Lives. They testified before Congress, met with the president, won the International Children’s Peace Prize and launched a 60-plus city bus tour to register tens of thousands of young voters.
March For Our Lives has evolved into a 300-chapter organization that has had a hand in helping pass many of the 130 gun violence prevention bills approved across the country since 2018 and regularly files amicus briefs in gun-related lawsuits.
Yet some of the original founders, including Emma Gonzalez, have left or taken a step back — or moved on to other issues. One of them is running for Congress in Florida.
Corin was so burned out from activism when she started college that she said she needed a year for herself.
“A lot of our trauma from the shooting is inherently linked to the organization,” she said.
Nearly four years after the shootings, the twenty-somethings have managed to keep the organization going and youth-led.