What links Elizabeth Eckford of the Little Rock Nine and integration to Emma Gonzalez of Never Again MSD and gun regulation? Both were in high school when they came to the public’s attention. Both survived events no person should experience. Both are integral parts of tremendous social issues and social movements. Those are their personal links.
Hannah Arendt unknowingly made their societal link in 1957. Struck by the pictorial image of Elizabeth, alone, surrounded by an epithet-screaming white mob, Hannah Arendt wrote: “It certainly did not require too much imagination to see that this (school integration) was to burden children, black and white, with the working out of a problem which adults for generations confessed themselves unable to solve.” (“Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion,” Michelle Dean.)
Sixty-one years later, the video image of Emma standing on a stage in Washington, D.C. in front of thousands of people, tears running down her face as she silently honored the dead of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, completes the link to Elizabeth. Out of that school shooting arose Never Again MSD, with Emma among its founders. Once again it is our children that we ask to solve a problem we confess we cannot.
Emma Gonzalez ended her “Never Again” speech with a call to action: “Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job.” Will we fight?
Corvallis (Dec. 5)