Parkland grad explains why they march: 'Because we have to. We're afraid for our lives.'

Parkland grad explains why they march: 'Because we have to. We're afraid for our lives.'

When Parkland graduate Delaney Tarr stopped by “Salon Talks” this fall to talk about an essay collection she and her peers wrote called "Glimmer of Hope," she didn't want to dwell on details of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School one year ago that completely changed her life. She didn't come to talk about grief—her and her peers have done hundreds of interviews that dwell on that. She came to talk about action and hopefully, inspire it.

As a survivor of one of the most deadly school shootings in U.S. history, Tarr is uniquely equipped to shake up Washington's gun control debate, and she's fearless in her analysis and commentary. She calls out the NRA's stronghold in politics, Kanye West's Oval Office rant that spread misinformation on guns, and America's tendency to dismiss teen outrage as an angsty phase.

Tarr and her peers were thrust into activism, and it's clear that they are more than up for the task.  Tarr emphasizes that the March For Our Lives, the MeToo movement and Black Lives Matter are all born out of necessity. "It's not us wanting to do something, it's us having to do something," she tells me.

Read our conversation below, or watch it here. 

Tell me about the new book you’re a part of “Glimmer of Hope.” How did it come together?

I think something that's really interesting about this book is that it's kind of the behind the scenes of the March For Our Lives because people see what what's in the news, people see what happened on the stage that day at the march, but they don't know everything that went into creating it and to making it happen.

And it's a perspective that really just humanizes us and makes people remember that we're a group of teenagers that are doing this crazy huge thing. But we are a group of teenagers first and foremost.

You’re talking about the March For Our Lives, which happened in March 2018. How many people were there, a million?

The numbers range anywhere from 800,000 to a million in DC, but we had over 800 sibling marches all across the world, so that's millions and millions of people all coming out for one cause.

As organizers, what were you trying to communicate, besides humanizing yourselves? What else is the purpose behind releasing this book of essays?

With this book, we wanted to ignite some sort of passion for in young people in particular because when they see this, when they see what we had to go through, the grief that we experienced so many of our different experiences and perspectives, I think that every single person can connect to this in a different way, and it will hopefully inspire them to do something with their activism, with their passion.

I think it also, it's a good clarifier. It shows what we stand for, rather than what other people say we stand for. It's coming from our own mouths saying this is what we're about, not what other people are telling you now.

What did your life look like before the shooting and what does it look like now?

Before the shooting, I was in avid student journalist. I was in my student news, like my broadcast news, but I was also part of the student newspaper. My high school experience was largely covering things that were happening in school. It could be anything from stories about the vape epidemic at schools to just a football game. I spent four years with a camera in my hand sometimes in front, sometimes behind and that was my experience and it's kind of what got me to where I am today.

After the shooting happened, it just propelled me to go out there and do interviews because it's what I was comfortable doing. It's what I knew. It was my way of coping and it soon became obviously so much more. But now, I mean it's strange being on the other side of the camera so much, but it's what needs to be done and it's what I feel good doing.

How did Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and your experiences there change after the shooting?

I mean Douglas is a totally different place and I think that oftentimes people think that we only view Douglas in a negative light because of what happened there, but that's not true. It was our home. It still is a home for so many of us and that's not something that we're going to forget just because some horrible atrocity happened there.

It's so much more than just that one day and that's important to remember, even if it has shifted the way that we attended school. I mean we were terrified so much of the time afterwards.

I graduated last year, so I'm not even in school this year and I know that they've had to deal with fire alarms, with pranks, with dealing with the administration and school system, and yeah, there's good and bad, but ultimately, it's still where we came from and that's important.

In your essay in this book, you talk about how your sense of community really shifted in the aftermath and how you and your classmates really bonded and became a family.

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