Sam Fuentes, a survivor of the 2018 Parkland, Fl., school massacre, marched through the streets of Uvalde, Tx., in 105-degree heat, joining a new set of victims’ families who had a demand that she was all too familiar with: an end to gun violence. “It will always be an uphill battle,” said Fuentes, who became a co-founder of the March for Our Lives youth movement as a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where she was shot in the leg by a former student. The outpouring of youthful anger ignited by that shooting rampage transformed the national conversation on gun control, says the New York Times. As weeks of painful testimony and videos unfold in a hearing in Florida to determine whether the Parkland gunman will face the death penalty, Fuentes and some of her fellow students who became overnight activists are being asked to revisit the bloody massacre for what they hope will be one last time.
The emergence of March for Our Lives marked a shift in the debate over regulating guns, as Florida teenagers who had watched years of efforts by their elders fail announced they would get something done themselves. The Parkland students boarded buses to Washington, D.C., for the biggest of 800 rallies around the world. Millions watched on television as the students took turns on the stage and vowed to “stop at nothing” to make schools safe. “Welcome to the revolution,” one of the organizers, Cameron Kasky, told the crowd. Now, four years later, after dozens more shootings have terrorized schools across the country, Fuentes and her fellow March For Our Lives founders say they have made some progress and are prepared to do more. “The fight against gun violence is always going to be a long haul,” said Ms. Fuentes, now a 22-year-old film studies major at Hunter College. “I never expected to accomplish life-changing legislation overnight.” The Marjory Stoneman Douglas students were an international sensation, raising more than $18 million in the first year. The more well-known founders became household names, and now each of them has more than 1 million social media followers. The group has an annual budget of some $4 million.