March for Our Lives
“Just like Tinker v. Des Moines, we are going to change the law. That’s going to be Marjory Stoneman Douglas in that textbook and it’s going to be due to the tireless effort of the school board, the faculty members, the family members and most of all, the students”
March for Our Lives
The following essential questions provide a framework for exploring this unit’s main ideas and themes
- What can we learn from the Parkland students about creating change? What strategies did they use?
- How have youth led movements in the past influenced current organizing efforts by students today?
New Jersey Student Learning Standards
The materials and suggested lesson plan below satisfy the following New Jersey Student Learning Standards:
6.1.12.CivicsCM.14.b: Use a variety of evidence, including quantitative data, to evaluate the impact community groups and state policies have had on increasing the youth vote.
6.1.12.CivicsDP.14.a: Draw from multiple perspectives and cite evidence to determine the extent to which nongovernmental organizations, special interest groups, third party political groups, and the media affect public policy.
Goal and Learning Objectives: The goal of this module is to teach students about the history of gun control and youth movements in the U.S. and how young people influence politics in our time. Students will learn about the student organizing efforts of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students as well as the history of youth movements and the connection to voting and civic participation.
Content: This module provides resources and information designed to explore the important role that younger generation’s play in society and in politics. In this module, we offer resources, information, and ideas for examining student‐led movements and the debate surrounding gun control and the Second Amendment.
Activity I: History
Context: On February 14, 2018, one of America’s most deadly mass shootings took place in Parkland, Florida, leaving 17 students dead and 17 more injured. The students that survived the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School vowed to end the two decades of legislative inaction that has allowed mass shootings, especially in schools, to continue to take place throughout the United States. These students successfully captured the attention of Congress, the White House, the media, and the American people through their relentless advocacy and resilience in the face of tragedy. Immediately following the shooting, the students launched the #NeverAgain campaign, which is a national movement to end gun violence that quickly picked up traction through social media.
Six weeks later, the March for Our Lives protest took place, and is perhaps the most famous youth movement in recent history, with approximately 2 million attendees in over 800 cities around the world. Students such as Emma González and David Hogg have helped reignite the national debate about school safety and gun control in a relatively short amount of time by directly confronting legislators and speaking truth to power in spite of the negative backlash they have faced. Florida Senator Marco Rubio credited the survivors of the Parkland shooting with doing more to address gun violence in five weeks “than has been done in 15 years.”
Instructions: Use the materials to introduce the class to the history of the event. Have students break into groups and explore the gun control bill passed after the Parkland shooting. Have them also examine the Second Amendment of the United States. Introduce them to the gun control legislation that was passed after the shooting and have them read the Second Amendment. If time permits, have them do a document analysis activity on one or both of the documents.
Activity II: Key Figures
Instructions: This activity gives students the opportunity to learn about key figures involved in the March for Our Lives movement. Divide the class into small groups and have them discuss the figures on our Key Figures page and the downloadable PDF with more information. Have students answer and think through the discussion questions and then share their answers and thoughts with the whole class.
Activity III: Youth Organizing and Voter Registration Drives
Instructions: Have students pick one of the following topics and then have them write out a S I T worksheet:* a fact they find Surprising, a fact they find Interesting, and a fact they find Troubling. Then, have them take turns sharing on their topic.
- Student walk out day March 14 and Voter Registration: Influence for voting drives from Black lives matter / freedom riders
- Historic Example of student activism:
- Student Walkout Rights
*The S I T worksheet was created by Facing History and Ourselves – a website that offers lessons, teaching resources, and worksheets for teachers to use in the classroom.
Activity IV: Hands on Activity -Gun Control and March for Our Lives Action
Instructions: Split students into groups and have them discuss the arguments being made for and against gun control issues using the Save the Last Word for Me activity from Facing History and Ourselves. Then, have them answer the questions below before coming back together as a class.
Discussion questions for students to keep in mind when working through this material:
- Did you attend any March for Our Lives protests in 2018?
- What are lobbyists and what do they do?
- The National Rifle Association (NRA) has a large influence over gun legislation, especially in states like Florida. Do you think special interest groups should be able to influence politics? Why or why not?