National Walkout Day was Wednesday, March 14th, and thousands of students all over the country walked out of their classrooms for 17 minutes to honor the 17 people killed in the Parkland, Florida school shooting. Some schools saw 100% participation in the demonstration, but 16-year-old Justin Blackman of Wilson Preparatory Academy in Wilson, North Carolina was not surrounded by supportive crowds when he walked out his classroom door. In fact, he was the only student (out of 700) to participate at his school.
Justin walked out of his Spanish class at 10 a.m. and, realizing he was literally the only person to do so, filmed a 30-second video, which he tweeted with the caption, “Wow I’m literally the only one.” Blackman then said that he would continue to stand in solidarity for 17 minutes.
And while Justin didn’t expect anyone to actually see his video, he’s since received an outpouring of support from all across the country. Selma and A Wrinkle In Time director Ava DuVernay retweeted Blackman’s video, quoting Martin Luther King Jr.: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Alexis Tracton, a Stoneman Douglas freshman thanked Blackman, tweeting, “I’m inspired by you for being a leader. Every little thing makes a difference.”
#NationalWalkoutDay was both a demonstration for students killed in gun massacres and a protest for common sense gun laws. Students’ demands include banning assault weapons, requiring universal background checks, and passing laws that would disarm people who display signs of violent behavior.
We commend the courage of students across the country for raising their voices, and we’re so proud of Justin Blackman for taking a stand — even when no one else would.