By: Katie Quigley
“Before I went on, @Lin_Manuel saluted me and it was the final thing that gave me the push to speak. Art heals. Music heals.”
Organizers of the international March For Our Lives movement turned post-March 24th Twitter into an ideal platform for their supporters to understand what was going on behind the scenes of the event, and more importantly, in their minds, as they watched thousands of activists take to the streets all over the world- 850,000 in Washington, D.C. alone. Alex Wind, a Parkland native and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student, sparked the remembrance of my local activist experience very clearly, reflecting on a very appropriate salute he received from playwright, composer, lyricist, and actor, Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton.
Lin-Manuel was, unfortunately, not present in JCHS’s CPA on March 14th, however I could only hope that his spirit of action, change, and empowerment could be felt by everyone else in the room as I stood on stage, decked in my bright orange “Rise Up, Wise Up, Eyes Up” shirt. Lin’s merchandise line, TeeRico, creates these t-shirts regularly, but had just started manufacturing them in orange in support of gun reform. “Rise Up, Wise Up, Eyes Up” references a Hamilton tune, The World Was Wide Enough, yet also doubles as a major theme of the show. Unbeknownst to Lin, when he started writing Hamilton, back in 2009, this would be the mantra of thousands upon thousands of young adults nine years later, forced to fight for their lives in the free world, because they’ve realized that their leaders won’t. Said best by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student, Adam Alhanti,
“The only time students have ever written in textbooks was when they were writing their name in the condition box behind the front cover. Now, we’re the ones writing this chapter. Yes, some still cannot read in our text but soon the world will be fluent in our language: change.”
Working alongside my friends, in addition to constant support coming from some of my fellow students, teachers, and administration, was rewarding- but that didn’t stop my mind from wandering in and out of clouded anxiety, thinking about the students and teachers who wanted to see us fail. Students who hated what we were for, and teachers who, ironically, hated seeing teenagers shaping their own futures. Yet, as Parkland student Jaclyn Corin put it, at the March For Our Lives,
“Our first amendment right is our weapon of war in this. A weapon that should be on our streets. A weapon that cannot kill, but can heal. Love will always outweigh the hate. The universe is on the side of justice.”
Statements like these- from Jaclyn, Emma Gonzalez, Cameron Kasky, David Hogg- are what helped me recognize, on a very personal level, how crucial it is to to what is right, rather than what is comfortable. Unlike the politicians too comfortable to consider a change, and unlike the adults too comfortable to consider leadership coming from America’s youth, my fellow teen activists helped me find my way to the right side of history. And why should the right side of history be fearful? There’s no room for that. Only change, hope, action, power, and love. As Lin-Manuel Miranda once said,
“I am the one thing in life I can control. I am inimitable, I am an original. I’m not falling behind or running late. I’m not standing still: I am lying in wait.”
And to those in power, who value their own agenda over the lives of your country’s children: History Has Its Eyes On You.