Citizen Engagement in America’s History

Citizen Engagement in America’s History


Good evening and welcome to the William
G. McGowan theater here at the National Archives whether you’re here in the
theater joining us on our YouTube station or a special welcome to those of
you joining us on C Span. I’m David Ferriero the Archivist of the United
States and it’s a pleasure to have you with us this evening
for tonight’s discussion citizen engagement in America’s history. This
program is presented in partnership with US Association of Former Members of
Congress and we thank them for their support. Tonight’s program is part of the
National Archives ongoing efforts to promote civic education and facilitate
historical understanding of our national experience. Through our public programs and
educational activities we offer a wide range of program formats for audiences
of adults children and educators to educate American citizens about
democracy. Before I get started I’d like to tell you about two other events
coming up later this month, tomorrow at noon as a Robert F. Kennedy legacy
program we will hear from Kerry Kennedy about her new book about her father
Robert F. Kennedy Ripples of Hope using interviews with those who have
been inspired by him Kennedy brings to life RFK values and passions and the
book signing will follow that program. And then on Tuesday July 3rd at noon get
a head start on the July 4th celebration with a conversation between John Adams
and Thomas Jefferson these two founding fathers portrayed by Joseph Doyle and
Steven Eden Bowe will debate each other and take questions from the audience and
then on the next morning on July 4th they’ll be on the Constitution have new
steps reading the Declaration of Independence to learn more about these
in all of our public programs and exhibits consult our monthly calendar of
events at archives.gov check out our website or sign up at the table outside
the theater to get email updates you’ll also find information about other
National Archives education activities. Another way to get more involved in the
National Archives is to become a member of the
National Archives Foundation the Foundation supports all of our education
and outreach programs and their applications for membership also in the
lobby. Citizen engagement and civic literacy have long been woven into the
work we do here at the National Archives our mission statement declares that we
strive to cultivate public participation we firmly believe in the importance of
public access to government records and that such access strengthens democracy
by allowing Americans to claim their rights of citizenship ,hold their government
accountable and understand their history so they can participate more effectively
in their government the records we preserve belong to all Americans and
they have the right to examine them and use them the Constitution of the United
States which we publicly display in the Rotunda proclaims the primacy of the
people in its opening words we the people another document exhibit records
of Rights has many examples of We the People
how have we have asserted our rights campaign for justice and petitioned our
government all of us that the National Archives take our roles as caretakers of
America’s records very seriously and we’re proud that the work we do every
day preserves our documentary heritage for generations to come I’ll turn you
over now to Martin Frost of the United States Association of Former Members of
Congress who will introduce tonight’s panelists Martin Frost served 26 years
as a congressman from the 24th district of Texas from 1979 to 2005 during that
time he served eight years in the House Democratic leadership four years as
chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and four years as
chair of the House Democratic caucus he was a member of the House Rules
Committee and the House Budget Committee since leaving Congress he served four
years as chair of the National Endowment for Democracy and is the incoming
president of the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress he’s an
adjunct professor in the George Washington University graduate school
well the political management and hold journalism and history degrees from the
University of Missouri and a law degree from Georgetown ladies and gentlemen
please welcome Martin Frost. Well thank thank you David it’s it’s good to be
back we the former members of Congress in
partnership with the Archives has a series of events like this and you all
have been great to help us put these on and I think people here tonight will
find it interesting both people watching it you’re streaming
it online and people here in the audience before we hear from the truly
outstanding panelists who volunteered their time to share their personal
stories of civic engagement with you tonight I’d like to share a quick word
about our association the former members of Congress as FMC we bring together a
bipartisan group of over 600 former representatives and senators who work
together in a bipartisan manner on a wide variety of projects our mission
strengthens the work of the current Congress by promoting collaborative
approaches to policymaking while deepening understanding of our
democratic system and encouraging public service as an association we’ve become
extremely concerned about the lack of civic education in this country whether
you agree or disagree with our panelists on the issues they advocate their
engagement as citizens is based on civic education they’ve learned and especially
the engagement we see from our guests today the I’m going to walk through I’m
going to walk through the who’s on the panel and then they’ll all come in at
once and our panel will will look to examine how from civil rights to
Parkland individuals from different generations backgrounds and platforms
have taken a stand on issues near and dear to their hearts all while becoming
active and vocal citizens we ask that our audience respect that discussion
we will focus on the issues of civic learning and engagement not about
particular issues like gun control or race relations it is the in the interest
of time and given how large our panel is this evening we’ve asked you to write
down any questions you may have for our panelists on note cards provided for you
staff members will circle the auditorium and collect those questions later in the
program finally if what our panelists share
tonight resonates with you in any way I encourage you to visit Former Members of
Congress website and find out more about our programming now having said that it
is my great pleasure to introduce to recognize the moderator for tonight’s
discussion former congressman from California Jane Harman one of the truly
outstanding members of Congress that I served with Jane became the first woman
director president and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson Center after serving nine
terms in the House of Representatives her dedication to public service is
exemplary she served in President Carter’s administration was a member of
the House Armed Services Homeland Security and intelligence committees and
is recognized worldwide as an expert on security and public policy issues.
Jane will be tonight’s guide during our conversation on how citizens of our
country have helped shape our democracy joining her on our tonight’s panelists
Washington’s DC delegate in the House of Representatives Eleanor Holmes
Norton will be one of those panelist. Congressman Norton in addition to having served 14 terms in the House of Representatives
came into public life as a civil rights and feminist leader and a tenured
professor of law a third generation Washingtonian
she spent her legal career arguing cases protecting women’s rights civil rights
and free speech also on the panel will be former
congressman Tim Pietra who represented Wisconsin’s 6th congressional district
for 18 terms that’s long time folks until his retirement from the US House
of Representatives at the end of the 113th Congress he was a senior member of both
the Transportation and Infrastructure committees and the Committee on
education and workforce known for his innovative creative solutions to
government problems representative Pietra served legislative in issues in
several areas including student loan reform the federal highway program cost
sharing for federal water projects tax and welfare reform and health care and
he will be bringing the perspective of a long-term Republican member of Congress
who had to face the same type of lobbying that Democratic members face in
dealing with issues facing our country then of course is Sarah Lerner is a
teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida she teaches
English journalism and advises the yearbook this is Sarah’s 16th year of
teaching having taught at Lyons Middle school South Plantation high school
previously she has been a Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school at Marjory
Stoneman Douglas high school since 2014 Sarah has received honors from the
Florida scholastic Press Association the Southern inna scholastic Press
Association National scholastic Press Association as well as the Columbia
scholastic Press Association the four yearbooks Sarah has produced at
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have all been nationally recognized they
have also been entered into the walls Worth gallery of excellence as we all
know she historically watched over 15 students in a locked classroom when a
gunman attacked her school last February and then last but not least is Raine
valadares who just finished her junior year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High
School in Parkland reign has been on the yearbook staff for the past three years
and has been photo editor the last two years as a senior she will continue as
photo editor and become the in chief along with her work as year
book editor Rain has taken five advanced placement classes has been involved in
National Honor Society teen trendsetters and the Spanish club she plans to study
photojournalism in college the photographs rain made of her classmates
in the hours before the attack on her school are simply stunning and have
received national attention it is my privilege to have you all on the stage
with us this evening so please join us in welcoming this outstanding panel as
they enter the hall [Applause] he’s disappeared
I hope the mic gets on can everybody hear me good evening I’m Jane Harman and
this it’s an exciting panel and I gather we will be joined a little bit later by
Congressman Ted Deutsch from the Parkland District and if he comes and if
he wants to we’re gonna add him to our little happy group because he has
stories obviously to tell to let me just make a few opening comments and then
you’ll hear I think an amazingly interesting set of stories from
activists who were and are extremely effective and we will the last speaker
will be Tim Pietra and the his just to warn you as a former member of Congress
too he will talk about the the ways in which Congress receives information or
doesn’t receive information and some of the lessons learned so it’s a pleasure
to participate in an event with the National Archives
I’m sure you’ve all been here I was realizing how long it’s been since I’ve
been here but the documents in this place show us all why the this
democratic– with a small d– experiment in America is has been so successful and
is so important and similarly Congress is part of that experiment and as the
article 1 branch of government there are three branches of government article 1
is Congress article 2 is the executive and article 3 as the courts Article 1
means that Congress really has to be first has to lead and sometimes it does
and sometimes it doesn’t but these stories will help illuminate some of the
of the better times in the United States Congress I would say and I don’t know
that I hope I don’t offend my dear friend Eleanor this is not one of
Congress better times that has nothing to do with her personal ability
which is enormous but it does have to do with the
ability of the institution as an institution to get things done so toxic
partisanship is a big problem and I think we all pay a price for that
including the people who work there but we’ll tell some of the good stories
tonight the way we will do this and Martin said this is within a historical
context so we will start with Eleanor’s stories not because she may be one of
the more person with more life experience on the stage but because she
was I didn’t mess that up too bad but because in terms of timing the activism
that she first engaged in before she ran for Congress and still engages in came
first so will will go into that we will then I may ask a few questions along the
way and then we are taking written questions from you which will be given
to me and I will be happy to ask them Just a few more points, one, the importance of bipartisanship. though I’m a Democrat
I have always called myself a charter member of the bipartisan party since
what mattered to me and I think what mattered to all of us in Congress was
putting the country first and sadly the the business model of Congress now
doesn’t do that it’s not the people very good people serve in Congress in my view
in both parties and very good staff serves in Congress in both parties but
the problem is that that that the the goal of the business model rather than
solving problems is to blame the other side for not solving problems and as a
bipartisan here I will say that both parties play this game and the country
loses and if you are bipartisan these days that means you get a primary
challenge and it’s very unfortunate for all of us that that seems to be the
model and all of us can change it if we are active this is the point and pitch
the right messages to the right people in both parties and I think we’re going
to learn that Congress also is not I would say a learning institution why is
that because people are too busy I was visiting a senior member of the Senate
today and he said thanks for coming up here I don’t have time to learn about
this issue and the issue I was talking about you might be interested was about
a summit that was convened by the Trump administration last June a year ago Vice
President Pence went and John Kelly who was then the Secretary of Homeland
Security went as did the head of Luis Moreno the head of the inter-american
Development Bank and some others summit was held in Florida and the point of
this summit was to figure out how the United States could help the governments
of the Central American countries which are the drivers of this migration
through Mexico into the United States that was as we all know that’s been the
the top of the news for the last weeks and the Trump administration had a good
idea invest in developing political capacity in these countries help reduce
corruption and crime from the drug cartels and stimulate business
investment in these countries why wouldn’t that be a good idea who would
be against that nobody and actually Congress funds some of that
however this summit occurred a year ago and it and there was a report with
recommendations and no one is focusing on it so I I went to see a senior member
of the Senate to suggest that perhaps this person who has jurisdiction over
some aspects of Latin America in his role on the the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee might hold a hearing or come down to the Wilson Center this
nonpartisan think tank that I had and address this issue it just hasn’t been
addressed it should be focused on it certainly if done right and it was
the administration’s initiative it certainly would would add some value and
help the country solve a very serious problem so this evening as you heard
from Martin Frost we are not debating the merits of the various issues you’ll
hear about we are probing the advocacy that was behind presenting these issues
to Congress and how those who advocated effectively did it and how perhaps what
they did would have to be done a little differently in in this century that it
was done in the last century so we’ll start with congresswoman Eleanor Holmes
Norton who I met in her advocacy days way back when and I just make a point I
think Martin was saying that there are 600 former members of Congress did you
know that since the beginning of time there have been about 10,500 members of
Congress and guess how many of them were female under 500 that is still the
current statistic so it is with great pride that I would like to welcome one
of my former sisters Eleanor Holmes Norton
Thank You Jane and the question Eleanor is you were a
civil rights advocate in various guises what what turns you on to the issue is
plural what did you do and how do you looking back on your own activism how do
you measure your effectiveness well it’s important to to recognize that Congress
is not a self-executing body that puts a great burden on the citizens if you want
anything done through law in your country now I’m a native Washingtonian a
third generation Washingtonian grew up in the city was one of the last
graduates of a segregated school system because Brown versus Board of Education
came just as I was graduating from Dunbar High School so my own experience
with segregation is not only discrimination everything was segregated
in your nation’s capital except the buses downtown in the department stores
African-Americans couldn’t try on clothes this was a southern city so
having grown up with segregation I was really ready for the civil rights
movement so a lot has to do with your moment in time and I was going to
college just as a civil rights movement was bursting forward particularly as a
student movement I was a member of what was known as SNCC the Student
Nonviolent Coordinating Committee so it had the civil rights movement had about
six major organizations of which snick is one my colleague John Lewis and I
were both in in SNCC at the same time so it gives me great joy to see students
even younger than we or taking the initiative on a major
issue in our country and I must say given their age high school students the
first time I have ever seen high school students essentially start a national
movement we and snick were a part of an overall movement I went over there was
the NAACP there were any number of organizations we had the march on
Washington that was led by adults what happened in parkland Florida is very
different these students came to Washington and had a big demonstration
they were in charge they have stimulated one of the toughest issues to get the
Congress to focus on in fact if I may say so
I can think of no tougher issue and yet if you if you had a pen and you put it
you really ought to be able to do something about it for example and there
very few statistics like this about 97 percent of the American people for
background checks for guns that’s that that’s that hard it says something
though about the way our country was set up that it is hard to get even easy
things done and the way our country was set up by founders who didn’t much
believe that the central government could do very much was to make it
difficult for the central government to do very much and that was back then in
the 18th century and 19th century but when you have to pass bills unlike the
way bills are passed in Europe in a parliamentary system where whoever runs
the government makes the laws has the majority if you have a wholly different
system that says even if you want to get a bill where 97 percent of the American
people are for you you’ve got to go through the house
you’ve got to go through the Senate they each have cumbersome rules and then
you’ve got to get the President to sign it there is something new on the scene
and that is the student movement and essentially the challenge so the House
of Representatives where I serve is can they get the Congress to do what nobody
before them has been able to do they have shown longevity they haven’t just
had a demonstration here and got everybody excited so I would answer that
question even given how difficult it is to get things done in Congress that the
students led by the Parkland Florida assists the students will show the
country that young people can make the old fashioned Congress do something
important in our country and that is passed common-sense gun safety laws I
very much thank them for their leadership appreciate that but you were
pretty effective too we’re gonna hear from the parkland teacher and student in
a minute but Eleanor back in the day you know John Lewis and you and others were
extraordinary leaders at a young age for Congress to do something about racial
discrimination and Congress actually did a lot about racial discrimination back
in the day a President Lyndon Johnson particularly cared about this I remember
this and in the early 70s I was a staffer in the Senate I was the chief
counsel of the Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional rights and we were able
to extend and expand the Voting Rights Act and it was tricky procedurally
tricky because the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time
Jim Eastland of Mississippi was an avowed segregationist but we didn’t do
this by ourselves there was enormous pressure from outside so when
snick days and then later you were the head of the Equal Opportunity Commission
what did you do then to get Congress to move well as a young
person with segregation still in place you mentioned the Voting Rights Act
there’s also that’s the 1965 Voting Rights Act yeah this is 1964 Civil
Rights Act and I got through college and in time to head the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission that I was in the streets trying to get and there was the
1968 Fair Housing Act so you were in the streets
I mean it’s different time and you took enormous personal risk so I mean walking
across the Pettis bridge we I think most people know that story John were you
there when John Lewis I didn’t walk across the penalty is beating I was
among the students who sat in we did I wouldn’t want you to think that the
risks were very great if they were so great we were young and foolish enough
not to regard sitting in a place that you weren’t supposed to be as a risk and
that does say something about our country that even with segregation in
place we believed that we would somehow survive what we call nonviolent
resistance so I have enormous and the Parkland students are far more
sophisticated they have something we didn’t have social media I mean I’m
going every so they’re gonna talk about my I want every social media platform
and there wasn’t any such thing so imagine what they’re going to be able to
do with this issue that we had to do by putting our body swung on and saying
okay you got arrest me because that’s the only way I can make a pause you know
how did you not everybody did what you did even people growing up in the
segregated in this segregated town or in the segregated south who were the
victims of discrimination wouldn’t necessarily put their bodies at risk
I mean what motivated you personally to do this how did you have the courage to
do it well I really think growing up in the
nation’s capital a segregated City and understand it was a city where people
black people worked in the bowels of the government but that meant they had to
have some college education so that there was some some great consciousness
if you grew up in this city I am the great great granddaughter of a runaway
slave from Virginia and that consciousness which is replicated among
African Americans in in the district people who had a high consciousness did
not live in the old south which would have been even more risky but lived in
the nation’s capital so in a real sense I’m I just could not wait for the civil
rights more I was ready for it before it happened and that has a lot to do with
growing up in the city where we are now and in the in the nation’s capital has a
lot to do with activism you could not wait and you had great opportunities I
did you went to Yale Law School do I remember this right so you had you know
this fancy law degree probably well back in the day I remember this women women
lawyers weren’t getting a lot of job offers but you probably had a cushy
option and instead you chose active no but by that time the civil rights might
had already been in the civil rights what I say young and foolish but I
thought I had already been in what she did was very courageous and I’m sure
everyone agrees with me and we will talk about this issue too but when you did it
very there was what was what had not been done it there had not been an
activist movement since the labor movement and that was before I was born
so the country was not used to seeing people get up on their hind legs legs
and demand something and expect to get some response who does that who does
that are people are people who are desperate enough so that really don’t
have many other options and who does it first and I think that’s an important
point to be 9 it is not unusual for activism to
begin among the very young not people who have children people who have
responsibilities but people who if you will forgive me have nothing to lose and
who who make it possible for the rest of us to have everything to gain I was born
at the right time to be in such in such a generation and and it has helped me
prepare for everything else I have done in my life fairly including one for
Congress and if you hadn’t done all this crazy stuff maybe you wouldn’t have had
the gumption to run for Congress which is a pretty big move in case anybody
missed it you know you put yourself out there even if you have a Yale degree and
somebody comes up and feels very comfortable saying I don’t like you I
don’t want you and you know it’s not exactly a warm and fuzzy experience to
be merchandise and have people have opinions that may not be based on your
merit then some other people probably love you and you may not deserve that
either but my point is it it’s a brave thing to do to be an activist it is a
brave thing to do and you were very effective at it and then you parlayed
that into an extremely long so far political career where you are also out
there doing brave things and so I just think we’re gonna move on here but I I
just personally want to salute you [Applause]
so now we’re gonna talk to Sarah and rain oh there he is
this is peter deutsche congressman peter deutsche e can add to Ted there’s
another Peter George congressman Ted Deutsch I know well this guy Peter I
used to be Tom Petri and now he’s Tim Pete rise so I I deserve to be confused
anyway hi Ted Ted is the congressman for Sarah and rain and we’re gonna hear
their stories and now that you’re here we’re delighted you’re here I wish you’d
comment on them what we’re trying to talk about is activism where does it
come from and how do you do it effectively and we are addressing the
gun safety issue but we’re not debating the gun safety issue we’re discussing
activism and and and as Eleanor was saying before you got here it was an
astonished honestly impressive performance performance is not favorite
and astonishingly professed impressive active from the heart of students and
teachers who went through an absolute absolutely horrific experience not the
first and not the last in our country but the most recent horrific experience
so I don’t know which one of you wants to start but please talk about not just
the incident and what you what you did but you know how how you personally well
let’s start with you Sarah because you’re the one who barricaded yourself
in the room and saved a bunch of kids how did how’d you do that well it was a
normal Wednesday at school I was giving a quiz to my seniors in my English class
and the fire alarm went off and we all kind of looked at each other in
confusion because we had just had a fire drill in the morning so they were taking
a quiz on 1984 very happy to leave the room I’m like all right let’s go
so I grabbed my phone in my keys we went outside and I had about 25 students with
me and we heard what sounded like firecrackers
and then I saw people running and knew it couldn’t have been firecrackers so I
got back upstairs to my classroom I ended up with five from my class
everyone else had kind of just scattered like cockroaches
and I had ten come to me from the classroom next door because their
teacher who’s a friend of mine had gone to another classroom for safety and I
let them in I locked the door and we sat in the room and we waited and waited and
waited and we were in the room for about two and a half hours until the SWAT team
came in eight very large very nice but very large armed men you know let
themselves into my classroom and I mean I’m 38 now I was 37 when it happens I
realize I look like I’m 12 but I had to identify myself as the teacher in the
classroom and I you know had to open the closet so they could see what was inside
and then we grabbed whatever belongings they would allow us to grab and kind of
serpentine through campus to avoid the building and you know go a different
route and we made it off campus I went I we were kind of bust shuttle bused to a
local hotel where we met with police and FBI I gave my statement and then I met
up with my husband and my son my parents had my daughter was your son at the same
school my son isn’t well just finished sixth grade he’s in the middle school
next door so while I’m sitting in my classroom I you know once I realized
what was going on I sent a text to my husband and to my mom there’s an active
shooter on campus I’m okay and then maybe five ten minutes later my son
texted me mom I’m scared what’s going on we’re on lockdown so to have to tell
your twelve-year-old son I’m okay I’m not shot is horrible no one should ever
have to say that at all but you know he had never been on a lockdown before
and you know I needed to assure him that I was okay and I was safe and he was
where he needed to be and he was in the safest place listen to your teacher just
do what you need to do I’m okay you know and then anyone who’s ever had my phone
number was texting me most of the information I was receiving was coming
from the outside that’s how I found out that he had been apprehended I just I
didn’t know all I had with me was my cell phone my computer was on my desk
on the other side of the room and you know trying to get information and piece
things together I didn’t understand the full scope of what was happening for
hours days to come but you certainly understood that 15 people in your charge
we’re depending on you to do the right things and you did the right things yeah
yeah but okay that was that horrible day and with your own kids I you know I can
I absolutely can’t imagine because I have four children one of them was in
school here on 9/11 and I was a fairly senior member of Congress then trying to
reach her on my cell phone and could not because the cell towers had crashed and
it was terrifying just absolutely terrifying so that was
day one since then I don’t know how many days it’s been I bet you you all do how
many days has it been I don’t know the exact count but it’s over four months
okay but for four months now you are an activist on this issue and how did that
how did you decide on day two and day three that you not we’re not just going
to have done the right thing on day one but that you were now going to be active
about this issue I’ve always been very politically aware and very politically
active in my own right you know very much a feminist always looking out for
human rights and when everything happened I knew as a journalism teacher
and a journalist I had a responsibility to do right by my students and our
community you know I’ve lived in Coral Springs which is the neighboring town
since 1995 I’m a product of the Broward County school system so I
you know I know these kids I am one of these kids so I needed to do right by
them and I mean I’ve been very active on
Twitter for years really just posting about food and like my kids and funny
things like stupid memes like I used to be hilarious my Twitter and now I it’s
like very serious political stuff but I knew that you know for the handful of
people who were following me they were seeing what I was saying and I didn’t
take that responsibility lightly beyond that as the yearbook advisor and a
journalism teacher you know I had to whenever we would go back to school I
had to finish out the year and I had to teach my journalism kids and we were in
the middle of our social media unit when everything happened and I had a yearbook
to finish when everything happened so I knew that I needed to work on things at
school with the students as far as social media and you know the journalism
end of things but I have strong feelings too and I had things that I wanted to
say and the day after the incident I cannot tell you I felt like I was on a
media tour I cannot tell you how many reporters and shows and radio podcasts I
did and the day before I was just a regular mom teacher in Florida and now
MSNBC is calling CNN is calling I was on NPR like I just felt like I was all over
the place because of what happened but I was using that to start to make change I
didn’t think of myself as an activist at that moment but I knew something needed
to change which you became that you stepped into the moment just the way
Eleanor did different different set of circumstances but not really bad stuff
happened she’s there she has a reason to be hurt by that bad stuff and she had
the courage the personal courage and the passion to get in the moment so
let’s turn to rain because for you this has to be even harder you’re still in
high school and your classmates were killed and
wounded our condolences obviously to them and I’m sure you knew them and what
was it like for you and what helped you because it’s you think I mean I can’t
imagine at your age whether I would have the I wouldn’t have had the composure
that you have Oh first off thank you well I like to start off talking about
the beginning of that day it was Valentine’s Day I don’t know
and I don’t like to forget that it was Valentine’s Day because the day started
out to be a great day it was Valentine’s Day and being a photo editor being in
yearbook I took the duty of taking Valentine’s
Day pictures and I was at lunch and I was taking pictures of Emma Gonzales I
don’t like you guys know that name but um she had a table set up with the Gay
Straight Alliance Club she started giving out love proclamations these
little slips of paper and you could just sign your name and while I was taking
pictures of her one of my best friends Lila she’s also in yearbook
she signed like Lila and then put my name rain this is my Park omission of
love silly things like that it was just really light hearted and people were
giving out flowers and before we left lunch
I saw a close friend of mine her name is Victoria Tori Gonzales and the best
buddies Club at her school they sell one dollar Valentine’s Day
gifts and I saw her just buying gifts for her well I can’t say boyfriend
because she doesn’t like the word boyfriend because she refers to him
that’s her soulmate it’s high school hey no it was never they could never say
boyfriend-girlfriend they’re just like cuz it’s okay they said it was so much
more than that her boyfriend her boyfriend was a Joaquin guac Oliver
sorry and sorry so I took those pictures and
and I just held on to them and I went back upstairs to the room finished my
lunch and that was it and on my way to fourth period I saw one of my other
friends Natasha also in yearbook she was coming up to me and she’s about
to give me a hug and I was just like say cheese and I took a picture of her
she was holding a heart balloon and it was just it was that was the day like it
was I was stressed out aside to do an essay after school and that was my
biggest worry you know she’s like oh my god know how I do that I got to make
everything up and the teacher that Miss Lerner is referring to who had to leave
her classroom to seek safety that was my teacher I was right next to miss learner
my next-door so my teacher she’s my AP environmental teacher her name – Tammy
Aurelio she had the door open because she’s
environmental she wants air and I heard actually david hobbies in my class but
in the front he was sitting in the front he was like oh mr. really oh did you
hear that and I was sitting in the back and I wasn’t paying attention there’s 20
minutes left of school I was just like let’s go but and then just a split
second after he said that fire alarm went off yeah we go down the stairs and
then just as she explained pops went off but I kind of disappointed myself
because I did not react quick enough because I was in such denial for such a
long time not just then but hours after it even happened I turned around and I
looked I looked at my teacher I was just where do I go and I kept walking
straight and chef Kurth the culinary teacher she just dragged all of us in
even to other teachers and there was about almost 30 45 I can’t even remember
65 in a classroom and we were all just crammed there and I remember a girl in
the back was having a panic attack she couldn’t breathe and I remember chef
Kurt coming in and saying don’t worry it’s just a drill so I just call myself
down I was like guys it’s fine we’re gonna be fine
but then slowly I started getting text messages and then I got one from Natasha
who I took a picture of saying that one of our friends was also in yearbook
named Isabelle checker Lisa that she got shot at first I was just like this this
isn’t this isn’t what but then I started getting calls from my family I got a
call from my brother who also attends the school he’s a senior he ran he was
one of the first kids who ran and he just the desperation in his voice it
kind of it stunned me so much and that I didn’t know I was just telling him it’s
tutorials the drills I’m just still in denial then my parents call me and then
I’m talking to my mom and I’m saying I’m fine and then I say my friend Isabelle
got shot and my mom is asking me is she gonna be okay I paused because I didn’t
know I didn’t know anything and I started crying because that’s when it
kind of finally hit me we spend some more time there sitting for hours and
one student takes out a laptop he has and he turns it on to the news and we
see footage of kids coming out and it says at least 22 injured still in denial
all of us they said oh that’s probably kids injured because they started
running and they got trampled on and we’re just like it’s fine and then they
started comparing this to Columbine we were like Columbine that can’t be true
time still goes by and eventually the SWAT team comes in I run out of school
and I walk towards my mom and we go home going back to social media it was the
first thing I did when I went back home I tweeted out I said I am so heartbroken
I don’t know what’s happening I love you guys like just to everyone and then I
just started seeing more and more footage my friends the videos with my
friends kneeling and just it was just horrifying and then hearing the constant
updates so when so is missing so so is injured I didn’t contact one of my best friends
just because everything was happening so fast and she’s actually one of my close
neighbors and I went to her doorstep because I was just like is Maddy okay
and I knocked on her door there was no answer I looked around like I saw there
was lights I was just confused but then I went back and I was like she’s
probably fine she she’s probably also confused and same as I am I go back on
Twitter and i refresh my feed and the first thing I see is a picture of Maddy
sorry again and it’s a post from a family friend of Maddy saying please
pray for Maddy she got shot three times and she needs to go undergo surgeries
but then later that night I also learned she was shot three times through her
stomach and lung she Fratton she broke five ribs and shattered three of them
and one bullet went through her arm straight out but then I also started
texting her mom and I said is she okay she’s gonna be okay and they said that
the doctors expected a full recovery so going back to how I took photos that
day the week after everything happened we had an orientation where we went back
to school to receive our belongings that we left in the classroom and talked with
our teachers and her friends and our principal I had left my camera in my
back like I wasn’t gonna run with it I was just I don’t know what to do
and the first thing I did was look at the pictures I took so you say activism
and there’s I think there’s so many different ways to be an activist there’s
ways to tweet speak out art and I used my art my craft photography as my way of
protest almost and I posted those photos of them that day and it got a lot of
attention on Twitter and people realized the innocence that we had in all of us
that day and how it was just ripped away from us and I always compare that event
to just saying it’s a huge before and after in my life and those photos were
my last account of the before and I’m just again I’m really proud of
my peers and just we none of us expected this I felt like the first day was just
complete confusion the next day was grief filled with grief but then with
this whole never again thing trending I didn’t know what was going on they sent
out like remind text everyone tweet never again at three o’clock I was just
like okay I’ll do it I tweeted at 3:07 I was like oh my god I’m late but it’s
okay I didn’t know cuz I didn’t know what it what I was trying to do but then
it started just gaining so much it was just a huge snowball effect that
everyone started getting getting in on this and then it just turned into a
March and then now I’m here and then like it’s just the support not just from
our school and our community just the entire country it’s I don’t like I don’t
know but it well two things social media which didn’t exist when eleanor was an
early activist has its own momentum but second of all I think everyone feels and
I’m gonna ask Ted if he agrees with this that the poise and the amazing strength
of the Parkland kids is what led this not just followed this but led this and
the March here as I remember you know reading about it was funded by some big
shots but smartly or maybe the kids asked for this they weren’t in the
forefront the kids were the people on the stage were the kids and the power of
this was because first of all you all experienced it the horror of it but
second of all you were brave you put yourselves out there not just through
you know using computers and all that and hashtag this and that and what but
in a in a different form from the way Eleanor did it but as effectively the
faces of this were your faces right yeah I think just as much as people want to
tweet something or write something online it means that much more showing
up that’s right then it just shows how much you’re willing to go how far you’re
willing to go to continue your message not only sorry
you’ve answered that question you’re willing to go as far as you need to go
so Ted I do know what your name is [Laughter]
you were the are the member of Congress for parkland and where were you and you
know what role have you played in either being part of the activism or receiving
the activism and you know how was the institution we’re going next to Tim and
he’s going to talk about how Congress receives information , well dot dot dot
but what role have you played in this and are you playing not to debate the
issue but in the activism of the kids well first it’s it’s really it’s great
to be here and there have been many many opportunities that I’ve had to share a
stage the platform the classroom with teachers and students and and every time
it’s an honor look I was and and by the way we just to spend a moment of talking
about our guests there were a lot of a lot of heroes on February 14th and this
was such a horrific tragedy and and the activism that sprung out of it has been
so inspiring I’ll talk about that we sometimes don’t pause to reflect upon
even in the midst of that awful day the heroism that was on display all over
that school and and there is no better example of that than Sara so so I was just really quickly I was here
I was in a Foreign Affairs hearing and got a text from my deputy district
director whose daughters a student at Stoneman Douglas just telling me that
that her daughter was locked and locked herself in a closet in the band room
because there was an active shooter on campus I jumped out of my chair ran into
the the ante room called the sheriff who had just come out of the school and and
I will never forget he said I I asked him because there wasn’t much they’ve
been reported yet on the news and I asked him about what he had seen and and
he just said congressman it’s as bad as you can possibly imagine and so I did
everything I could to get a flight home I got home that night and was that the
school the next day I was actually just when you speak of activism I was at the
school about two weeks before the shooting speaking to the politics club
and journalists and I did an interview with with high school television
reporter David hog which I still like to see actually and and a bunch of the kids
that have now become these household names of that came out that day just to
talk about being involved in community so I I got home and went to Parkland to
be with the community and you could I could tell immediately that this was
different first of all we knew was different because I knew the kind of
school I knew the kind of community that Coral Springs and parkland are I know
the kids and teachers at the school they weren’t just going to let this fall by
the wayside as just one more horrific school shooting they were going to do
something about it so there was a rally there was a vigil the next night but
earlier in that afternoon 24 hours to the minute
from the shooting the students gathered at the same park and and had a moment of
silence and it was very moving and afterward several of the students came
up to me and described what they experienced and what they saw and just
grabbed my arm and said congressman we can’t we can’t just let this happen
again we have to do something and they’ve been doing something about it
literally every day since and I I had the privilege of being there at the that
never again headquarters in some that someone’s dining room table because
these are after all high school kids rain right sitting around sitting around
the table after they had just gotten off the phone one of them had just spoken
with Justin Bieber and another way that right that everyone wanted to chime in
and be helpful and the reason that that they’ve been so incredible and so
inspiring and you could see you could tell by by the way Rainn presented
herself and and her story tonight is that there is nothing more happening
here than people who experience something that is just incomprehensible
to the rest of us and decided to do something about it in the most genuine
way the reason that they’re so successful is because they’re so real
there’s no there’s no putting on a show there it is 100% based on who they are
and what they’ve experienced and they don’t back down they don’t go away they
stay at it but that’s another part that they didn’t necessarily have to do but
they’re doing it know and and they and they started immediately there they
there were a number of students who came up here the week after the shooting and
and we took them around to Capitol Hill and they met literally hundreds of
members of Congress because you it didn’t matter what your politics were
you couldn’t refused a meeting with people with
students who had just appeared so you couldn’t say no so there’s not like I’m
not gonna make this a debate but I’m just going to describe something that
happened there’s nothing quite like seeing some of your young constituents
sit around the table with a member of the leadership of the House of
Representatives who was very kind to them and and engaged with them and then
they laid out what they were trying to accomplish and this member took out a
copy of pocket Constitution and started reading the Second Amendment in
explaining the Second Amendment only in response what did we then see one of the
students pull out his own copy in the pocket Constitution and explain why the
even the the decision in the Heller case leaves room for what they were trying it
was it was incredible I just and then we went and this is last thing I’ll say
about this we did a rally out in at Blair high school and represented Raskin
on very short notice helped pull this thing together there
were about a thousand students JMU was there I was there the principal and
maybe a teacher or two everyone else in the room was a student a high school
student everyone that’s animagic and they stood and I’ve never seen anything
like these students you had a group from from Parkland you had a group from
Maryland and DC of Virginia all sitting on stage together and they took turns
going back and forth where one would say we’re going to be the generation that
ends gun violence and the next would say we’re going to be the generation that
brings change we’re going to be the generation that leads everyone to vote
and every time they did it there was this roar from the crowd it was
incredible and that and then it was the next day that a week later that the the
big event the big town hall meeting took place and look the reason that I think
this really took off is because there was this nationally televised town hall
meeting that gave the world the opportunity to see what this community
was like what these students were like the the fact that they were will
to say things that lots of people may think but nobody would ever think of
saying on national TV and and it was and it came from such a powerfully right
genuine place that then propelled this movement the March and what they’re
doing now going from city to city to register voters is remarkable correct
well let me let Kim get up to this conversation and we’ve got to get to
questions so you will have time so Tim you were a member of Congress for a long
time as we all are and you are a Republican who I’ll vouch for him
there’s a wonderful Republican and I’m in trouble now you’ve seen a lot of this
you weren’t in Congress for this particular chapter but you’ve seen a lot
of this what are your thoughts about and and maybe you personally were an
activist or are and you know what are your thoughts about this and what kinds
of messages did you receive what were the messages
that moved you during your long congressional career and and who were
the messengers conveying those messages well I mean let me just say one or two
things really quickly first of all this is all occurring in a context which it’s
worth mentioning and that is the Constitution that you talked about and
we do we’re very fortunate in this country that we do have the right to
petition our government and the freedom of association and you’re exercising
both of those rights and you might even one of these days
get people giving you contributions and engage someone who will petition the
government professionally for you called a lobbyist which has a bad reputation a
maybe in Congress themselves yeah but we all belong to associations in America
and we all the but of course they don’t all have the same views and where we
serve it’s called the people’s house and then there’s a reason for that the focus
of each representative is very much on the national issues and so on so forth
but also and how it’s going to affect the people in their district and what
they think of it and how they’re going to react and one
of the difficulties with an issue such as the one we’ve been discussing is that
has very broad general support but that does not translate into as not
historically translated into votes whereas the narrow percentage of people
it does translate into votes and therefore people are not only listening
to the majority they’re listening to the depth of concern as well and and so I
could give examples of that I don’t know if I should the might maybe I will one
of them of our colleagues of Peter Smith from Vermont is a moderate Republican
voted for moderate gun control legislation he was defeated by Bernie
Sanders who is of socialist running of and and Bernie oppose theater on the gun
issue and it turned out that liberals were not willing to vote for a moderate
Republican who supported them on the gun issue but the gun conservative gun
owners were willing to vote for a socialist who supported them on that
issue and and so this is a revelation makes a big difference so if you could
collect the signatures of five or ten thousand people in a congressional
district of people who said they are they were had been boring Democratic but
they would vote for Republican who supported you on that issue you might
pick up a few people across the aisle but in fact it’s turned out that the
people who who for a whole variety of reasons of support gun rights for them
it’s a a very deep issue in any cases and it will influence their vote whereas
people who support gun control have a lot of other issues and when push comes
to shove and it gets right down to voting it does not historically
translated into votes and people have discovered that in the political process just what Jim Moran from Virginia and I
were in England talking with college students there and at every issue every
forum that this issue came up and they couldn’t understand American gun laws
we’d voted differently I represented a rural district I actually did a poll
once in my district and 80% of people were in favor of some sort of gun
control but the 20% for them it was a huge issue and and the 80% were for it
but they weren’t going to vote on the base of that issue so this is the kind
of a thing that makes makes issues like this difficult and and frustrating and
of course it’s all as you know it and their variety of it’s not really only
guns for example it’s it’s mental health it’s a whole variety of of issues that
are involved in something like this but it certainly would be helpful if we
could get if you work hard and you can develop a consensus around doing
something positive in this area so I think that’s very helpful I was
remembering as you spoke that my first term in Congress was 1992 the so-called
year of the woman imagine that but that was the time when
the number of women in the house here come the questions doubled not from a
very big number to a still small number but when two senators were elected who
happened to be women from California I think that was the first time and they
were Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer Dianna still there and in 1993 she
authored the assault weapons ban which was a bill to ban civilian ownership of
assault weapons for ten years and it passed the House I don’t know whether
any Republicans voted for it I don’t remember that but the result of that
vote plus one other vote for a budget that President Clinton who was then
president proposed was that the Democrats lost the house lost the
majority and Tom Foley who was then the Speaker of the House
came from a fairly rural Washington district and who supported this assault
weapons ban lost his own personal election I mean it’s a was a big deal
the people on the other side of the issue mobilized and took him out and I
don’t know whether his district was overwhelmingly Democrat or it wasn’t but
anyway Foley lost Newt Gingrich became the speaker and ten years later when
this bill expired it wasn’t renewed so the assault weapons
ban no longer exists and let me just make one other comment and we’ll go to
these questions this is really good I was remembering for some of us the 60s
not just the activism around civil rights but the fact that President
Kennedy who was the motivation for me to enter politics later but I actually
literally went to the Democratic convention in Los Angeles in 1960 I was
a kid and I grew up in LA public school kid went to the convention got on the
floor saw him nominated and was an usher of sorts at his acceptance speech and
that’s when I fell in love with politics but he was assassinated in 1963 brutal
event for the country and then in 1968 Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy
were assassinated and their just work was a lot of TV footage about the
Kennedy assassination and the fact that the country came out and stood on the
train tracks as his body was moved from New York where his funeral was to to
Washington where he’s buried so you know going growing up through this your
experience was more personal but this felt pretty personal too so you know
this there’s a lot of history out there okay let’s see we’ll start with Ken rein
tell us what her pin says on her shirt oh I’ve been trying to show it it says
love it is the Coldplay logo I got this a couple weeks after everything happened
there was a mini March that we had at the pine trails park in Parkland to
another nearby part that passes our school we had her signs and
and we just spent the afternoon chanting that’s another question for the elected
officials and and Tim just mentioned this in passing professional lobbyists
obtained a lot of successes in Congress some examples are in here as a congress
person how do you experience these professional lobbyists what is the key
to their success I really think you ought to take this well almost everyone
belongs has a lobbyist on believe it or not probably in this room and in the in
the country if you belong to a church a lot of them have people who work for a
teacher if you’re a worker if you’re an environmentalist certainly most
businesses one way or another have have lobbyists and it has a bad reputation
but they actually serve a very important function in the working of our
government because you have a lot of competing interests we will invite
people to come and testify with different perspectives and a lot of them
are lobbyists but they’re representing the interests of their group and saying
how they will be hurt by something that another group is they’re trying to do
and through that process you can often work out accommodations that that enable
us to move forward one of the reasons before gridlock is that people willing
to listen and to see if there’s crossover in some areas where you can
actually get something done because of some polarization in the country I think
that the part that is not in the question but it should be added is that
some of these lobby groups have a lot of money and the way our system now works
with recent Supreme Court decisions you can basically through political action
committees and super PACs and other indirect ways I’ll contribute a lot of
money you know in a political race and if these lobby groups they can be on any
side of an issue tim is right I mean they’re not all
let’s say lobbying on the gun issue some are environmental groups some are Union
groups but if they provide a lot of money to a member of Congress it means
you the information that that person is willing to receive on either side of the
issue and feed the partisanship that we that we have yes our lobbyists they are
trying to get changes in Gotham point the most effective particular it sounds
ugly but it the whole point is you’re educating Congress the universities have
a lot of your school systems okay and if you’re a representative you are going to
be very sensitive to businesses in your district they employ people they are
important I’m certainly and is regardless of the might now it is true
that politics cost money and there is a problem with in both parties with moving
forward in Thomas raise from people of business before their committees and
that’s something that desperately needs to be the address but the whole system
of having freedom of association and being able to hire lawyers and other
people to effectively address issues really is is very important in the
working of our of our I would just yes yes I would circle to things one there
is the issue of lobbyists but it’s the issue of money that’s the that’s the
overriding factor there’s there’s too much of it as the as the lead sponsor on
the democracy for all amendment to overturn Citizens United which would
actually get money out of politics I spend a lot of time looking at all of
the ways that money has a really precious influence on the way Washington
works all of that said however getting back to this this issue
I mean Eleanor is exactly right there is no better advocate
then someone who comes with a personal story and there is no more powerful
personal story than the stories that we’re hearing out of parkland and so I
just might I understand the way the conventional wisdom has always been that
historically on the gun issue there are these single-issue voters and they only
vote they only care about about gun rights and the people who care about gun
safety and all of the steps that we could take that are widely supported but
accept in Congress that that those those support the supporters of those bills
and people who alright positions they’ve got lots of other things they care about
– I am Telling You from for what I’ve seen after stoma Douglas that is
changing there is a there’s a generation of young people for whom gun safety is
now a defining issue it will matter for them if they’re not old enough to vote
yet they’re making it matter to their families and I am convinced that in the
upcoming election there are seats around the country where you’re going to have
to just decide which side you’re on in this debate and I wouldn’t want to be on
the side of the gun companies when I’ve got students like rain coming in to
represent the other side or and by the way it’s one last thing about parkland
it’s a really powerful combination of the students and what some of the
families who lost loved ones have done since the shooting has been remarkably
powerful as well the the whether it’s direct advocacy for changing the laws or
foundations that have been started to focus on public on school safety on
mental health whatever the issue is there’s an incredible amount of positive
change that even with the grief that they’re dealing with that these families
are celebrating right and so several of these questions are about how and I ask
this in a different way about how you were empowered to act and and these
focus on what role teachers played powering you and in one case this is an
AP government teacher who asks what advice does each of you have for
teachers as to how best to empower our students to be motivated and effective
advocates so let’s ask you Sarah I think it’s important for teachers to realize
and be very aware that their students have a voice and they have opinions and
they’re not just the kids who sit in front of you they have valuable things
to say and valuable thoughts and plans and hopes and dreams and all of those
things that we try and foster in our students but you know when an event like
this happens you really see what these kids are made of and to kind of
piggyback on what Ted had said okay don’t Colin I want you know the what has
come out of Parkland I feel like it kind of came as a surprise to the rest of the
nation that you know the Parkland kids are so well-spoken and articulate and
they’ve you know got it all together but we knew that the whole time because
these are the same kids who will argue with you because they have an 89 and
they want that 90 and you know they are very persistent in their arguments they
don’t always get it but you know the drive is there so Delaney Tarr ate lunch
in my classroom or I’m sorry it was in my classroom every morning before school
Emma Gonzalez was in my journalism class as a junior like I know these kids and
to see them have a voice to see them have this platform knowing that you know
we as their teachers support them and encourage them and work with them it’s
it’s important for all teachers to do that whether there’s a huge issue like
this or just something small happening at your school this is
what we’re trained to do good answers so changing the subject a bit we we
talked about the fact that social media is a driver of a change that wasn’t
available to some of us back in the day but it’s here and you said rain you know
that you were very active on social media both in the that horrible
classroom at that horrible moment that evening and since so this question is is
about the perverse side what about backlash on social media and
how does somebody like you deal with that I assume there are people out there
who you know have counter messaging that is very personal to you and that is
probably very you know I don’t want to put words in your mouth but how do you
deal with that well as you’re talking about earlier actually social media is a
double-edged sword I’ve received a lot more support than I have backlash and
and then if I do get backlash it’s usually people then commenting under
this is a troll or like supporting my side even just speaking for me almost
but for those people who do say that it’s just I keep reading and I I almost
respond and I’m just like I don’t have time I don’t have the energy for that
because that’s not what I’m here to do I’m not here to argue and speak over
someone I’m here to share my platform share my views and hope that everyone
else can agree with me and see that my side or my beliefs are worth noticing
and going back to how we were talking about articulate speaking and things
like that I wasn’t surprised at all because I was in in classroom David was
also in the corner and I saw him filming and someone had a fat flashlight I was
like what is he doing but then it just spurred into what it is now and I’m
gonna go as well to the teacher thing um I’m sorry
but I think for teachers is just be there with your students just uplift
their voices as much as you can my environmental teacher she went with
me to Tallahassee for five days after everything happened to go and speak to
our senators and our representatives so just having her there and just
building this stronger bond that I had with her it kind of changed my whole
entire relationship with her and well yeah going back to backlash um I just I
just choose to ignore it because there’s I don’t have the energy for it I don’t
think many of my well that’s a very very mature reaction and okay in one minute
we’ll do that fine let me just get to and I do think that’s a very mature
reaction on your part there’s lots lots more to ask but here’s
one and again this is to you rain do you worry that your team team supporters
will lose interest in the cause of in the cost that we’re talking about
perhaps due to the distraction of social media and to you know other life
experiences at first I did actually a lot because again it for me for us in
Portland it was different because it was personal but then slowly I started
getting messages from other students say explaining how much we inspired them and
motivated them and then we went to a convention in California and we we were
passing by and we were looking at the journalism from other schools and we saw
that almost every single magazine or newspaper had a story talking about how
they marched or how they protested or what they did what their response was so
I don’t think as if we continue to do what we’re doing now I don’t think
they’ll lose interest as well because they’re looking to us and we’re
continuing and we’re not going to stop so I don’t think they will either can I
just quickly speak to the assumption in that question that I think a lot of
people had before this the the suggestion that well don’t you think and
get distracted and sucked back into snapchat and snapchat
don’t just a place to that same the narrative that existed before this
happened which is oh these high school kids they’re busy staring at their
screens all day long they’re they’re on snapchat and Instagram they’re playing
for tonight they’re not really they’re not paying attention to anything ongoing
or anything going on around them and then this happened and what we’ve
realized is the whole time they were on their phones they were building and
participating in this community that gives them reach in their own local area
and around the country in the world that we never could have imagined which is
why I’m confident they will not get sucked back into all this well I want to
call on Martin frosting about one minute but there’s just one other question in a
in a sort of different area and I’m sorry if I’m not fair to all of you but
there’s a lot of questions here and that is whether and maybe this is for you
Eleanor whether the spillover of this not that this issue is resolved
will shed some more life on the black lives matter issue which is not the same
issue as school shootings but it is an issue in the same same genre I mean is
is there a spillover do you think and is it being helpful that these kids are out
there in force much the same I mean it’s it’s different group of people but it’s
really look who black lives matter all I’m he’s not my generation and it’s not
quite parkland generation but it’s young people who again are showing that there
is a general understanding in this society that nothing happens without
activism that is the most important element of a democracy that you think
that what you are doing can somehow affect a very large
now for for african-americans who were bona fide a second-class citizens in
this country to take that step took an enormous sense that this country could
change and if that could happen in that generation that produced three great
civil rights statutes it does seem to me that it’s an object lesson for for every
single generation of young people so what have we see now it’s got to day
home to the youngest among us who are who have taken the most serious issue
into their own hands issues that generations before them have
systematically failed and gotten the attention of the country in a renewed
interest in a renewed effort to move perhaps the most difficult issue in our
country today our hat has to be off to them yes yes it does and I just want to
make this point about activism and then Martin please come and talk about this
issue that’s in the same bandwidth and maybe you can close this program but
while this is the most recent and possibly the most effective story about
activism activism has been going on in our country since its founding activists
founded our country and wrote the founding documents many of which are in
this building and we wouldn’t have a country without activism and we wouldn’t
have the change the social change not enough but we wouldn’t have the social
change we have and women wouldn’t have the right to vote and women wouldn’t be
in Congress that’s for darn sure without activism so it’s I what I like
about this panel in thinking about it is you know there is a historical precedent
it didn’t just start on on Valentine’s Day not to minimize what you’ve done
since Valentine’s Day and so I I really applaud everyone who
is on this panel and who is active and everyone in this audience raise your
hand if you’re an activist raise your hand if you’re not an activist
okay so I’ve made my point Martin why don’t you incoming president Martin
frost close this down but also make your point about yeah I’m Jane first of all
this was an extraordinary panel and I want to thank everybody for
participating and I want to take just a minute to share with you a personal
example you know during my career as a congressman where citizen activism made
a great deal of difference I some years ago there was a nine-year-old little
girl who was kidnapped molested and murdered in my district and as
congressman often do I went out to express my sympathies this was in a
blue-collar neighborhood relatively poor people and I said what can I do to help
and they said well congressman you can go back to Washington and make sure that
this doesn’t happen to other children and they urged me to have a law passed
increasing the penalties against child molesters which I did child predators
and then I worked with that group of citizens and with local media and law
enforcement to create what now is the AMBER Alert the little girl’s name was
Amber Hagerman and I was the author of the National Amber Alert legislation
which was because a group of citizens average citizens these weren’t people
with any money at all came to their congressman and said congressman could
you make a difference and fortunately working with other members of Congress I
was able to do that so there are a lot of examples everyone who served has some
degree of it as some kind of examples where the average citizen not the money
people made an impact on their career and on the people they represent and
again I want to thank all of you for participating today was a great
discussion. Thank you, thank you all for coming.

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