Free speech and democracy have long been enjoyed by the millions of people in the country but it hasn’t always been like that. There was a time when only a handful enjoyed certain privileges while the rest suffered in poverty and slavery. But over time and countless blood, sweat and tears of brave and selfless people, almost equal rights are now enjoyed by all. Take note, almost. While we seem to enjoy most of our human rights nowadays and take for granted the heroic bravery of our forefathers for us to be able to enjoy all these things, there are still a few vulnerable groups in society that don’t get to enjoy all these things like the rest of us.
Students get an education to learn crucial life and professional skills but they also learn about these inequalities and injustices in life. And with their idealistic point of views, it no longer comes as a surprise to see them fighting for various causes and leading up activist groups. The country is quite familiar with student activism and has seen our fair share of peaceful or violent protests in the student’s effort of trying to get their message across. What better cause to fight for than their own access to affordable and quality education. It will take more than just your arm and legs to send your kids to college. The sad thing is that that they’ll be drowning in student loan debt by the time they graduate.
We live in an area where student activism causes change.
The Free Speech Movement began with a yearlong protest at UC Berkeley led by Mario Savio after students were barred from fundraising and distributing political flyers on campus. The university eventually relented, but student-led civil disobedience quickly spread to college campuses throughout the country in the ’60s, coalescing into protests of the Vietnam War.
Tuition for UC and California State University students remained frozen from 2011 to 2016 because Gov. Jerry Brown listened to student protesters.
Merritt College students Huey Newton and Bobby Seale met in 1962 and four years later formed the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. As their movement grew, the Panthers’ foot soldiers concentrated on building free breakfast programs.
Student protesters are no longer limited to college campuses as even high-schoolers raise their voices to be heard regarding the rapid rise of gun violence happening schools all over the country. You can’t blame these young minds if they were awakened to the sad reality of life at such a young age because violence is all around them, even in the very place they consider as their second home. Now when you look at it, student activism is now tackling more diverse issues that aren’t solely related to education and children welfare.
Last week’s huge, nationwide participation in the student walkouts to protest gun violence in schools should provide a boost of energy for the turnout of young people for this week’s March for Our Lives in Washington and at more than 700 satellite marches against gun violence and school shootings, experts say.
The main March 24 event is on Pennsylvania Avenue between the U.S. Capitol and the White House, where organizers have estimated that 500,000 students and others will attend.
“I think there is going to be a lot of energy and a lot of carryover from the walkouts” lifting participation in the marches, said Jeremy Pressman, an associate professor of political science at the University of Connecticut and a leading expert on counting the size of protests.
Now, these student protests even have celebrity donors supporting their causes that in turn attracts even more people to attend their events. It has become a nationwide campaign where students from various states can also participate in somehow that is likewise backed by lots of private funding from high-profile celebrities who believe what they are fighting for. A perfect example is the “March for our Lives” protest that fights for better gun control and has been basically a nationwide event, which is fitting for their cause as various shooting incidents have erupted in different states over the past few years and claimed countless innocent lives. In this essence, it’s no longer just the students’ fight but that of the entire community since the cause is very timely and important for every American in the land.