The Phoenix Flyer

Florida school shooting survivors are finalists for TIME magazine’s 2018 Person of the Year

By: - December 10, 2018 4:25 pm
Emma Gonzalez

March For Our Lives organizers hold signs during a rally Monday, Nov. 5, on the steps of Tallahassee’s Old Capitol building to urge people to vote ahead of the Tuesday election. Organizer Emma Gonzalez speaks to the press. CD Davidson-Hiers/Florida Phoenix

UPDATE: TIME Magazine Tuesday morning chose “The Guardians and the war on truth” as 2018 Person of the Year, referring to individuals “who have taken great risks in pursuing the truth.” They include slain journalists at Maryland’s Capital Gazette newspaper, murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as well as jailed journalists Maria Ressa, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.

The shortlist of candidates for TIME magazine’s 2018 Person of the Year was unveiled Monday morning, and among the top ten candidates are the March For Our Lives student activists from Parkland.

The group was formed in the immediate aftermath of the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and school administrators were shot and killed.

Just days after the tragedy, student activists announced the March for Our Lives, a nationwide protest on March 24 to protest gun violence. Demonstrations were held around the country on that Saturday, with the biggest protest held in Washington D.C., where an estimated 800,000 attended.

“Not one more,” the March’s mission statement read. “We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school. We cannot allow one more teacher to make a choice to jump in front of a firing assault rifle to save the lives of students. We cannot allow one more family to wait for a call or text that never comes. Our schools are unsafe. Our children and teachers are dying. We must make it our top priority to save these lives.”

Student leaders David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, Jaclyn Corin and Matt Deitsch, along with other young leaders, were awarded the International Children’s Peace Prize for organizing March for Our Lives. Archbishop Desmond Tutu presented them with the international award that’s sponsored by the Kids Rights Foundation.

In the U.S., the student activists traveled to more than 50 cities in 20 states to register people to vote in the November midterm elections, with a separate tour in Florida stopping in all 27 of the state’s congressional districts.

“Gun violence is on the ballot,” student leader Gonzalez told reporters at a rally the day before the election in Tallahassee. “Our lives are in the hands of the people we elect. Vote in every election like it’s your last, because it very well could be.”

Members of the group say they’re dedicated to remaining in the fight for sensible gun-control measures beyond this year’s election.

“We know that this is not going to just happen right away,” 18-year-old Ryan Deitsch said that day. “We know we’re not just going to snap our fingers and then all the laws in our country are going to be fixed. But we’re willing to go the long haul. We’re willing to do the work.”

The other short-listed nominees for Person of the Year include President Donald Trump, Special Counselor Robert Mueller, Black Panther film director Ryan Coogler, slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Christine Blasey Ford, the Northern California woman who accused Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her, Russian President Vladimir Putin, South Korean President Moon Jae-In, Meghan Markle, the former Hollywood actress who married Britain’s Prince Harry and the more than 2,000 families separated at the U.S. border this summer under a Trump administration policy aimed at deterring illegal immigration.

The winner will be announced Tuesday morning on the Today Show.

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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has spent the past 18 years covering news and politics in the Sunshine State, most recently with He worked for five years as the political editor of Creative Loafing in Tampa, and before that he was the assistant news director at WMNF radio, where he served as creator/anchor/producer of the hour-long WMNF Evening News. A San Francisco native, Mitch began his career at KPFA Radio in Berkeley in the 1990's.