On this past weekend, I was beyond fortunate to attend the Generation Progress Gun Violence Prevention Summit with over one hundred young activists. As activists, we talked about our call of duty to raise awareness about gun violence prevention and the importance of working together to solve the issue.
The summit featured the White House as well as 41 other organizations who have also been working on the gun violence prevention issue. I’ve done many things in life but nothing has ever left me remarkably inspired like the summit. I’m not sure if it was the amount of power sitting in that room, the knowledge of being a selected attendee or the incredible surrounding of millennials but for the first time in my life, I felt as though I was the change that I sought.
I realized in the 3 days of the summit that age is only a number and everyday I wake up I can proudly say that I took a stand and joined the #Fight4AFuture movement. The #Fight4AFuture summit wasn’t for the faint of heart, it really made you take responsibility for your stance in the movement. The various panels of the weekend posed questions such as, “How do you keep the momentum going?” and also introduced the audience to heart breaking statistics such as: “Guns are the second highest cause of death for young people ages 15-24”, “Approximately 68 percent of people killed with a gun and 78 percent of people who kill with a gun were under the age of 35” and “Since the mass shooting in Newtown, CT there have been at least 44 school shootings.”
In addition to these moments from the summit, I had the opportunity to stand in the presence of heroes: Mr. Colin Goddard, a Virginia Tech Massacre survivor, who almost brought me to tears when he spoke on his amazing story of turning tragedy into triumph and Sarah Clem, a Newtown, Connecticut student who mobilized an action alliance immediately after the shooting at her former elementary school, Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The stories from Colin and Sarah, in addition to the stories from the other activists in the audience demonstrated to me that being “Fired up and ready to go” is more than a chant, it’s a lifestyle. I learned that to be successful in the gun violence prevention fight, we have to invest in our communities and have a conversation that everyone…regardless of race, sexual orientation, social class or gender can join. Michael Skolnik, Editor-in-Chief at Global Grind put it best when he said, “Everybody’s commitment to this issue is important to the conversation.”
The conversation starts today and I urge to fight for a future for the sake of the young people in this country. Mary Pat Hector spoke my mind when she declared that, “I think the problem is when a young man can get a gun faster than he can get fresh fruit in his neighborhood”. As you join the conversation, ask yourself “How am I making a difference in my community?”, “Am I fighting for a bright future for the youth in my neighborhood?” and lastly, “Am I reassuring love in those young people and inspiring them to be great?”.