Seattle U historian: Will the Parkland shooting youth movement bring lasting change?

VIDEO: Will youth movement bring lasting change?

Survivors of the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, took their demands for an end to gun violence to lawmakers in the nation’s capital and to Tallahassee.

Student activists also marched in Bellingham on Wednesday.

All are demanding an end to campus violence because “this is a life-and-death situation for them,” Emily Lieb, PhD told KIRO 7.

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Lieb is an assistant professor at Seattle University.  The expert on the American civil rights movement and public policy believes the recent student marches are being heard beyond their generation.

“I think it sometimes takes young people to say, 'This isn’t the water that we swim in.  It’s not the air that we breathe.  We don’t have to make these choices the same way,'" Lieb said.

She told KIRO 7 that American history is full of examples in which change only happened because young people led the charge.

Students demanded integrated education during the civil rights movement of the early 1960s and forced Congress to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 years old during the height of the Vietnam War.

“Students were making the point: 'You are sending us off to die in a war that we don’t have the ability to express ourselves about, or to express our political opinion. We can’t vote against this for three years, and you’re sending us off to die now.'  And that changed, that made a change," Lieb said.

Students in the past week have made their message so clear, according to Lieb, because they feel their lives are in danger while in school.

“The way that people experience political problems is very different when it’s their bodies that are being made to bear the weight of these problems.  And I think that’s what gives student voices such power. It’s what makes them so compelling.  It’s what makes them so hard to ignore," she said.

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