The duty of youth is to challenge corruption.” – Kurt Cobain
On March 24. about 800,000 people gathered at the nation’s capital to fulfill that duty. Similar displays of solidarity with the “March For Our Lives” happened across the country including at our university on March 22 where students protested at the Stallions.
An ocean of people stood at the nation’s capital demanding that lawmakers confront the issue of gun violence after 17 people were murdered during the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Americans who only recently became old enough to vote but are still not old enough to drink are at the helm of the march. The March For Our Lives represents a dissatisfaction with gun culture in the United States. However, it is also indicative of a resurgence of the potent political front that is young people.
It is understated how young Americans have helped shape the course of American history. Even dating back to the founding of the United States, Alexander Hamilton was only about 20 years old when he became a senior aide to General George Washington, the precursor to writing the Federalist papers; which would go on to solidify him as a founding father.
Most famously Martin Luther King Jr. was only 26 when he was instrumental in desegregating the Montgomery bus system almost 10 years before he would deliver “I Have a Dream” and solidify himself as the icon of civil rights that we know him as today.
This leaves only a four-year difference between Martin Luther King Jr. and the average college senior. In King’s first memoir of the Montgomery bus boycott, he detailed his academic career and important works that shaped his worldview. He spoke nothing of a childhood of philosophical virtuosity or genius level intellect. Only the time he spent studying and applying the knowledge he acquired through school.
These activists did not assume they were too young to make a change, they did not assume there was someone smarter who could make the change they wanted, and they did not wait for a gifted philosopher to descend from heaven and lead them in protest. Each of these figures exemplified how much change could be made at such a young age.
Deeper into the Civil Rights movement you find Representative John Lewis who was 20-years-old when he joined the Freedom Riders in 1960, a protest meant to enforce desegregation on interstate bus systems in the south. Lewis was voluntarily beaten and harassed for the cause of equality even with homework and exams to think about.
The average college sophomore is around 20 years old, and in what is a rather somber display of youthful engagement, during the Vietnam war, Students for a Democratic Society organized protests that made headlines for their passionate dissatisfaction with the Vietnam War. It was college students who went to trial as the Chicago Seven and it was Kent State students who unfortunately lost their lives at the hands of the national guard while protesting the war.
Historically, college students have been integral to setting the agenda of the U.S. government. No longer can we wait until we have arrived at the person we will ultimately become. From civil rights to deplatforming so called, “alt-right” pundits like Richard Spencer, to gun regulation today, history has a record of young people determining the identity and conscience of America and there is no reason why they should stop in 2018.
The older politicians occupying government roles should never feel comfortable in ignoring young Americans. We should be eager to prove that students are listening and that the student’s voice is alive and well. It is this threat of being replaced by the next generation that should keep lawmakers away from complacency.
Student organizers, student activists, faculty and the general student body at Texas State should be invigorated to assertively tackle the issues of our own campus by the solidarity displayed in Washington. The University Star editorial board hopes that it will spark a growth and continuation of change on our campus and nation at large.