Students at a Philadelphia high school this week shared their personal experiences with gun violence ahead of Wednesday’s National Walkout Day, a movement sparked by teens across the country in the wake of the deadly Parkland school shooting.
One by one, students at Philly’s Parkway Center City Middle College took turns reading their papers about the anticipated protest and expressed support for those at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Like the Parkland students, the Philadelphia students have seen their fair share of gun violence. What isn’t fair is the amount of attention the Parkland kids have gotten while sympathy has been lacking for cities impacted by gun violence daily.
“My whole life I been afraid of the world around me,” 15-year-old Simone Akridge wrote, according to the Philadelphia Enquirer
Classmate Zamir Brown, 15, also spoke, saying if he did participate in the student walkout (which he didn’t plan on), he’d do it to draw attention to all the Black people who are shot in this city “every damn day.” Brown revealed he was once grazed by a bullet when he was 9 and that his friend was shot twice as they walked to school. His friend survived.
“I want the same thing those [Parkland] kids want,” said student Jordyn Williams, 15. “I’m not saying that those kids’ lives didn’t matter. I’m saying they aren’t the ones being treated like nothing.”
The students’ words struck a chord with local reporter Helen Ubinas, who was there as the students shared their painful stories. After the assembly concluded, Ubinas wrote that one of the students came up to her asked a surprising, yet appropriate question.
“‘If the mass shooting hadn’t brought gun violence to the steps of the Florida school,’ she asked, ‘would the Parkland teens be standing in solidarity with them over the violence they live with every day?’ ” Ubinas recalled, adding that the student then asked what she would do.
“I hesitated because I didn’t want them to think I was criticizing anyone’s decision not to walk out,” she said in regard to the protest. “But I told them that if I were in their shoes, I’d do it. I’d walk in solidarity with the Parkland students … to call attention to the gun violence [Philly students] live with that the world chooses not to see.”
After leaving the high school Ubinas shared her thoughts on the painful reality the Philly students are faced with.