Friday, March 02, 2018

The New Children's Crusade

by Loren Coleman ©2018

A crusade is, simply put, something that's bigger than you are. It's a "cause" with an impact that reaches beyond your personal wants and needs.
 ~ Arthur L. Williams, Jr. (April 23, 1942 - )

After the Valentine's Day killing of 17 at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a fundamental shift occurred in the mentality of America, regarding gun restrictions. It was driven by the adolescent students, first at Parkland, and then throughout the country. 

Despite a backlash from a few skeptical adults and a first wave of falsehoods about "crisis actors," thoughtful social media comments have been growing about youthful actions changing society.

Some examples from history have been shared:

Ages in 1776 
Marquis de Lafayette, 18 
James Monroe, 18 
Henry Lee III, 20 
John Trumbull, 20 
Aaron Burr, 20 
John Marshall, 20 
Nathan Hale, 21 
Alexander Hamilton, 21


Lewis and Clark Expedition, 1805-1806
Sacagawea, 17-18, became the expedition's interpreter/guide


Nat Turner, 22, began having the visions that lead to a slave rebellion.


Augustus Caesar was senator at 20.
Mary Shelly published Frankenstein at 20.
Galusha Pennypacker was a brigadier general at 20.
Alexander the Great conquered countries at 18.
Joan of Arc commanded an army at 17. 
Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize at 17.
Barbara Johns was 16 when she fought for better conditions in her segregated school.
Louis Braille invented Braille when he was 15. 
 Anne Frank's 14-year-old voice is an eternal reminder. 
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote his first symphony at 8.

What do we know about past "Children's Crusades"?

The Original Children’s Crusade

The Children's Crusade for the Holy Land was organized in 1212. There were probably two separate movements of young people, both led by shepherd boys, neither of which eventually embarked from Europe, but both of which suffered considerable hardships and deaths:
 ~ Early spring 1212 – The child shepherd Nicholas leads a group numbering 7000, from the Rhineland to Genoa and Rome.
~ June 1212 – 12-year-old Stephen of Cloyes leads a group of 30,000, across France to Marseilles.
None of the children made it to the Holy Land.

Mother Jones' Children's Crusade

Mary Harris Jones' Children's Crusade, a cross-country march led by American labor organizer Mary Harris "Mother" Jones in 1903. Jones organized children who were working in mills and mines to participate in a Children's Crusade, a march from Kensington, Philadelphia to Oyster Bay, New York, the hometown of President Theodore Roosevelt with banners demanding "We want to go to school and not the mines!" Roosevelt never came out to meet them.

Civil Rights Children's Crusade

Children's Crusade (April 3-May 10, 1963), a march of over 1000 children led by James Bevel in Birmingham, Alabama, during the American Civil Rights Movement. The event resulted in outbreak of mass demonstrations throughout United States. It also had a call for a March on Washington, Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, August 28, 1963. At the end of this March, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream” speech. (See, "Children have changed America before, braving fire hoses and police dogs for civil rights," by Steven Levingston, Washington Post, February 22, 2018.)

One of the deadly reactions to this movement was by the white supremacists (specifically the KKK) against the Birmingham Children's Crusade. It involved the death of four young girls killed in the bombing of Birmingham's 16 Street Baptist Church on September 15, 1963 (clockwise from top left, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Carol Denise McNair). Twenty-two others were injured. No prosecutions occurred until 1977, 2001, and 2002, of three of the four known bombers.

The Children's Crusade 2018

As many commentaries have noted, the reaction to the Parkland school shooting is turning out to be different than the aftermath of other recent shootings. Columbine occurred 19 years ago. High school survivors back then would be 33 to 38 years old today. The foundation has been set for social change.

There are several reasons for why it happened at Parkland: Over a 1000 school shooting survivors exist in the US as of 2018; the survivors of the Las Vegas massacre were tourists who went home; the elementary student survivors of Sandy Hook were not an articulate force; and the older, near adult survivors at Parkland are media savvy.
The Parkland survivors are part of a much larger wave of youth activism that can be traced back to Black Lives Matter. There is undeniable racism in the fact that the majority white, well-to-do kids of Parkland have attracted broader public support than African-American protesters. Still, if we see Black Lives Matter and Parkland as part of a continuum, this suggests America might yet address seemingly intractable social problems like police brutality and mass shootings. A new generation is rejecting their elders’ complacency about these ills—and more of these youth reach voting age every day. ~ by Feet Heer, The New Republic, February 26, 2018.

There is a "New Children’s Crusade" that has developed from the 2018 Florida school shooting.

Thus far, besides individual and group media action, the student activists (with a core of them being journalism, media, political, and theater students) at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been involved in direct community organizing. They have planned these events:
February 21, 2018, Students’s March on the State Legislature, Tallahassee, Florida.
March 17, 2018, the first month anniversary of the Parkland shooting, may result in a localized walkout in Florida.
March 24, 2018 is the date of a planned "March for Our Lives" to Washington D.C. (March 24th is the 20th anniversary of when on March 24, 1998, two boys, aged 11 and 13, fire upon teachers and students at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas; five people are killed and ten are wounded. )
April 20, 2018 is designated as the day for the "National School Walkout." (April 20th is the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting of April 20, 1999. Two teen males killed 13 people and injured 24 others before dying by suicide in Columbine, Colorado.)

The student organization outfront about this is Never Again MSD (MSD refers to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School). This is an American student-led organization, which advocates for tighter regulations to prevent gun violence. The group, also known by the hashtag #NeverAgain, was formed in the aftermath of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people were murdered by a shooter armed with an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle.

The group started on social media as a movement "For survivors of the Stoneman Douglas Shooting, by survivors of the Stoneman Douglas Shooting" using the hashtag #NeverAgain. The group has staged protests demanding legislative action to be taken to prevent similar shootings in the future and has vocally condemned U.S. lawmakers who have received political contributions from the National Rifle Association (NRA).

The group was founded by approximately twenty students who survived the Stoneman Douglas shooting. Wikipedia noted that "among its most prominent members are Cameron Kasky, Emma González, and David Hogg," but several other students were involved.

Who among these emerging student leaders of 2018 will continue onward as the guiding lights of this new political movement into the 2020s?

David Hogg, Alex Wind, Emma Gonzalez, Cameron Kasky, and Jaclyn Corin spoke to “Fox News Sunday” about the need for more discussion on gun control after 17 people were killed in February 14th’s deadly shooting.

Jaclyn Corin, Ryan Deitsch and Alfonso Calderon

Jaclyn Corin

Cameron Kasky and Jaclyn Corin

Cameron Kasky is a Junior at Stoneman Douglas High School. He was asked to write a piece for CNN, and appeared at the CNN town meeting, asking Senator Mario Rubio about his accepting money from the NRA.
Jaclyn Corin

Jaclyn Corin

Jaclyn Corin, 17, is the Stoneman Douglas High School Junior Class President. She is a frequent speaker at rallies.

Emma Gonzalez

Emma Gonzalez

Emma Gonzalez

Emma Gonzalez, 18, a senior, is a high-profile school activist, who survived the Parkland shooting. González was raised in Parkland, Florida. Her mother is a math tutor and her father, Jose González, is a cybersecurity attorney who immigrated from Cuba to New York City in 1968. In high school, González was the tracking team leader on Project Aquila, a mission to send a school-made weather balloon "to the edge of space"; the project was documented by fellow student David Hogg. She is one of the cofounders of Never Again MSD.

On February 17, 2018, González gave an often-quoted and well-publicized 11-minute speech speech in front of the Broward County Courthouse at a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. González was attacked for her Fort Lauderdale speech by many from the political right. She has also faced derogatory and misinformed comments made by internet trolls about her sexual orientation, short hair, and skin color. Glamour Magazine called González "the face of the #NeverAgain movement" and "a recognizable icon."

Jaclyn Corin, Cameron Kasky, Emma Gonzalez

Emma Gonzalez, unknown, Alfonso Calderon, Delaney Tarr

Alfonso Calderon

Alfonso Calderon

Alfonso Calderon

Alfonso Calderon, 16, a junior, spent four hours in a closet during the Parkland shooting. He is one of the cofounders of the Never Again MSD movement.

Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg

Kelsey Friend, unknown, David Hogg

David Hogg, David's father

David Hogg

Kelsey Friend, David Hogg

David Miles Hogg, a senior and student journalist, is one of the cofounders of Never Again MSD. He is the son of Kevin Hogg, a Republican and former agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Rebecca Boldrick, a teacher for Broward County Public Schools in Broward County, Florida. As an FBI agent, Hogg's father worked at airports in Los Angeles and Florida before retiring from the bureau in October 2016 because he was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease.

David Hogg is a Teenlink reporter for the Sun Sentinel, and chose to attend Stoneman Douglas because of the television production classes it offered. Hogg was a focus of alt.right conspiracy theories that he was a "crisis actor." Alex Jones' anti-Hogg videos were cited for "harassment and bullying" by YouTube and Facebook, and removed. Mario Rubio tweeted, "Claiming some of the students on tv after #Parkland are actors is the work of a disgusting group of idiots with no sense of decency."

Alex Wind

Alex Wind

Alex Wind

Alex Wind, 17, a junior, is a member of the school's drama club. Wind and his friend Cameron Kasky were founding members of the #NeverAgain movement. He sang the National Anthem at the Miami Heat's home game to honor the victims of the Parkland shooting.

Cameron Kasky

Cameron Kasky

Delaney Tarr, Cameron Kasky, Ryan Deitsch

Ryan Deitsch

 Ryan Deitsch, Jaclyn Corin, Lorenzo Prado

Lorenzo Prado

Lorenzo Prado, junior, who is a spokesperson now, was, the day of the shooting, mistaken for being the shooter. He said that because he was wearing similarly colored clothing and matched Cruz's description, SWAT team members descended upon him and drew their guns. He was tossed to the ground, held at gunpoint, and unjustly cuffed.

Ryan Deitsch

Ryan Deitsch, a student journalist and producer for the school newsroom, took multiple videos from a closet when the shooting began and in the school. He is the president and founder of the school's improv club. 

three Parkland shooting survivors

Carly Novell, Delaney Tarr

Carly Novell, a senior at the Florida high school where at 17 people were killed in a mass shooting Wednesday afternoon, survived by hiding in a closet with several of her classmates. It was an eerie parallel to a day almost 70 years earlier, when Novell’s grandfather, Charles Cohen, survived one of the nation’s earliest mass shootings by a lone gunman in 1949....When Cohen was 12 years old, he hid from notorious mass murderer Howard Unruh in Camden, New Jersey, as his parents and grandmother were killed in their home."Student Carly Novell Became the Second Member of Her Family to Survive a Mass Shooting," by Olivia Estrum, Mother Jones, February 15, 2018.

Carly Novell

Delaney Tarr

Delaney Tarr

Delaney Tarr, Jaclyn Corin

Delaney Tarr, a senior, took a broadcast production class during her freshman year and served as anchor of the school’s news broadcast during her junior year. As a student journalist, she was a post-Parkland shooting spokesperson who talked to the media and was responsible for an essay about the situation in Teen Vogue.

Samuel Zeif

Samuel Zeif

Samuel Zeif

Samuel Zeif, an 18-year-old senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was invited to the White House meeting.

Unidentified students at the Florida State Capitol


The alt-right tries to connect the dots to undermine the student activists.

One of the less inspiring things about the movement led by student survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting has been the conspiracy theory—proliferated in the swampy depths where such things proliferate—that the students are actually “crisis actors.” It’s a warped brand of trutherism that spread after Sandy Hook and has since, as my colleague Eric Lach wrote this week, been impossible to reason with. But that isn’t to say that the kids aren’t actors. Cameron Kasky, the seventeen-year-old firebrand who started the Never Again movement with his classmates, told Wolf Blitzer, “Well, if you had seen me in our school’s production of ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ you would know that nobody would pay me to act for anything.” ~ by Michael Shulman, "The Spring Awakening of the Stoneman Douglas Theatre Kids," The New Yorker, February 23, 2018.

Cameron Kasky, Delaney Tarr, Emma Gonzales, David Hogg

Cameron Kasky, Jaclyn Corin, Emma Gonzales

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting - CBS Anti-Gun Squad - Who's Who

The Kids From Florida Aren’t Acting

The above Children's Crusade cartoon was revised by GunFreeZone to promote a now-incorrect conservative media account about allegedly scripts provided for students. It never happened but the cartoon lives on.

Misinformation has been used to attempt to discredit the student organizers and CNN, regarding the content of one town meeting.

Fox News, Politifact, and other outlets published a report on February 23, 2018 that CNN scripted questions for Colton Haab, a 17-year old Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadet. He withdrew from appearing on CNN. The dispute drew attention from President Donald Trump, who took to Twitter to pile on CNN, a news outlet he has long disparaged as "fake news." CNN refuted that story. CNN released documents demonstrating the Haab family doctored its email exchange with CNN to make the networks’ role appear more heavy-handed than it actually was. Glenn Haab, Colton’s father, has admitted to altering the emails to several news outlets.

See also here


Popular Culture Footnote

Avengers: The Children's Crusade, appeared via Marvel Comics,
first in June 2011, written by Allan Heinberg and illustrated by Jim Cheung.


Loren Coleman, MSW 1978, Simmons College, Boston, is the author of Suicide Clusters (1987) and The Copycat Effect (2004). 



Aaron said...

I am not so sure this movement is as sudden and grassroots as advertised. Too many coincidences. Nice post Loren.

Dennis/87 said...

You rock! Thanks for the histrionic essay. Your research is legion. To shine forth is key. Regards, Dennis.

Dennis/87 said...

Great work Loren! 87

Michael said...

March 14 would be the 1 month anniversary, not March 17. However, 3/17 is St. Patrick's Day, a Masonic high holy day.