[image-1] Survivors of the mass shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 dead will co-host a town hall with local student activists Tuesday night at the College of Charleston.
“Join us to help get people registered and ready to vote!” reads an email by Jammal Lemy, an activist and former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “We’ll talk about how we can rally voters around saving lives this November and stand up to the NRA.”
Sixteen more cities are on the books between Sat. July 28 and Aug. 12, starting with a call for stricter gun legislation in Florida’s capital and continuing through Atlanta; Roswell, Ga.; and Charleston.
The February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School sparked a national, student-led movement to improve the permissive, and often deadly, state of pro-gun laws in America. Starting with an impassioned speech by senior Emma González during which she implored listeners to “call B.S.” on politicians who take NRA money, the movement spawned the 200,000 person March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. and hundreds of other sister marches, including one in North Charleston.
Tuesday’s town hall will include an hour-long panel with Parkland survivors and members of the local student activist group Lowcountry Students for Political Action, followed by a Q&A.
Parkland survivors will meet with families of the Emanuel Nine before Tuesday’s event, away from crowds and cameras.
“It just kind of gives everyone a safe space to say what they want and what they’re comfortable in that moment,” said Jaclyn Corin, a Parkland shooting survivor who says similar meetings have taken place with other mass shooting survivors in Las Vegas and Aurora, Colo. “We receive sympathy all day, every day, but its another thing to actually empathize with someone else who actually knows what we’re going through.”
Connecting with Mother Emanuel survivors was key in the group’s decision to visit Charleston, but Corin says that the prospect of energizing a young voter base in a red state remains a key priority.
“We want people to understand that just because they’re 18 or 19, that doesn’t mean they can’t make difference,” she said.
Jacob Gamble, an Ashley Ridge High School graduate who helped organize the North Charleston March for Our Lives, says working with the Parkland students has given him insight into how the movement is truly led by students and recent grads.
“I’ve only talked to one adult this entire time,” Gamble said. “It shows you what they’re made of, I guess, how genuine and real they actually are. Critics of them say they’re puppets of adults trying to push their agenda, but it’s not true from what I’ve seen.”
Gamble, Academic Magnet graduate Lauren Haselden, Fort Dorchester rising junior Sydney Clinton, and Fort Dorchester rising senior Dalton Bell will represent Lowcountry Students for Political Action.
Former Douglas High School students Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg will also visit Charleston for the stop, along with Chicago anti-gun violence activist Alex King.