On February 14, 2018, 17 people were shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.
The event rocked the nation, but then again, it didn’t. Mass shootings have become so commonplace that each new attack is labeled a tragedy but then lawmakers shrug their shoulders and move on to something else. I have seen this pattern up close: I’m from Newtown, CT and was in high school during our tragedy.
But Valentine’s Day of 2018 was different. The kids took agency over their lives and what was happening to them. The kids got on television and broadcast their personalities and thoughts, continuing to bring the massacre to the forefront attention of the American public.
A month later, there was a major rally in Washington complete with performances from Miley Cyrus and Halsey, emotional speeches from the students of Parkland and an appearance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 10-year-old granddaughter.
The power that fuels the March For Our Lives (MFOL) kids is something so beautiful and inspiring that it is hard to put into words, but
that’s where Dave Cullen has our back.
Parkland: Birth of a Movement (Harper) is a deep and serious look into the entirety of the movement, from conversations on coping with the students involved in MFOL and those who aren’t, to the background fuss of the Washington march. Personal anecdotes from the author and his impression as a reporter who also covered the Columbine massacre are what makes this nonfiction account worth the read. Just one anecdote Cullen shares in Parkland is how he manages to sneak a high school reporter into the press area of the march without incident.
This book also introduces adults and other students to the hope the MFOL kids were able to inspire in others. David Hogg, for example, turned his grief and trauma into words, actions and real change beginning on the day of the shooting. He sought camera crews to explain his thoughts on the event and how to move forward.
These kids prove that no one is too young to spark change or rise from a tragedy. They prove that the power of social media, in the right hands, can be used to create change, foster understanding and change America. If it can be done here, it can be done anywhere.
The integrity of the students, the focus on their parents and themselves and the discussion of the trials (whether putting oneself in the limelight so severely as a teenager is worth it) results in a well-rounded journalistic account. The poignant understanding Cullen brings to this amazing transformation of kids scared in a lockdown to kids fighting for themselves and others is just magnificent.
Equal parts horrifying and amazingly inspiring, Parkland: Birth of a Movement by Dave Cullen is out now.
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ABOUT DAVE CULLEN:
Dave Cullen is the best-selling author of Columbine and covered the Parkland shooting from day one. Dave has written for New York Times, London Times, Vanity Fair, BuzzFeed, Politico, New Republic, Newsweek, Guardian, Washington Post, Daily Beast, Slate, Salon, and more. He has appeared on PBS Newshour, NBC Nightly News, Today, CBS Sunday Morning, Nightline, Morning Edition, CBS This Morning, New Day, Anderson Cooper 360, Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Lawrence O’Donnell, Talk of the Nation, The Nineties, Hannity, etc.