PLAINFIELD, NJ - I am so inspired and moved by the courage and leadership being shown by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students who lost their friends and classmates in one of our nation's most horrific school shootings just over one week ago. These students have taken an unspeakable tragedy and turned it into a powerful and positive force for change. Their efforts are inspiring a nation and sparking a student-led movement across the country.
I was proud to learn that some of our very own Plainfield High School students are organizing and planning actions to support this fight to reform our country's gun laws. Our nation has a gun murder rate 25 times higher than that of any other high-income country where stronger gun safety laws are in place. Since the heinous and heartbreaking mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, more than 150,000 Americans have been killed by guns. This is shameful and completely unacceptable. We must do better. And what is clear is that our youth are showing us how.
Many have dismissed this generation of youth as apathetic, which could not be further from the truth. Like generations before them, they are taking on a fight that is much bigger than themselves and at great personal risk. Unfortunately, we are seeing efforts to smear these students by those opposing their activism, but they remain undaunted.
Let us not forget that the Civil Rights movement was led by students. They marched, boycotted, sat-in at lunch counters, registered people to vote, and petitioned their government. In 1960, at only six years old, civil rights icon, Ruby Bridges, bravely took on the challenge to be among the first to integrate a public school in New Orleans, Louisiana. Ruby was not alone; young children courageously desegregated schools around the country including in our city of Plainfield. Sadly, some students even sacrificed their lives in the fight for racial justice and equality.
Our nation has a powerful and extensive legacy of youth-led movements that have bent the moral arc of history more towards justice. We are in one of those historic moments where the youth are leading the charge to bring transformative change to our country. They are setting an example for all of us, and now is the time for us to support and stand with them as they lead.
Creating One Plainfield, One Future