April 20th, 1999: a day that would change the teenage experience in America forever. Two teenagers, lost and disturbed, murdered 13 innocent people in their high school and injured 20 more, eventually turning the guns on themselves. This was a day of tragedy, not only for the families affected, but for the entire nation.
19 years later, students across the country walked out of class in solidarity against these actions, against the tragedy of Columbine. The mistakes of two boys soon became a pattern of young men across the country, 13 deaths turning into thousands. The problem had still not been solved.
One day, nearly 20 years after Columbine, the nation was shaken yet again. This time, 17 people killed in Parkland, Florida, at the hands of a fellow student. Maybe even a friend. Youth erupted, marching for change.
But what no one seemed to recognize was the fact that that same shooter had been reported to the FBI twice and to the school board. Multiple teachers knew. Students had known. It was no surprise. How could laws change that? How did the angry debate about guns remotely affect the fact that those who are supposed to protect our children failed?
How could this change the fact that, more than a year after the Parkland shooting, the school did not make a single change?
For young Toni Dower, this was a call to action. Students could no longer be made a toy or a talking piece. Our lives were and ARE at stake, and we must make change on our own. We MUST hold our officials accountable, and do so using facts. Most importantly, we all must do this together.
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