Parkland kids are changing America. Here are the black teens who helped pave their way.

Illustration by Tatiana Cardenas/ Upworthy.

As thousands across the nation prepare to take to the streets on March 24, 2018, for The March for Our Lives, we’re taking a look at some of the root causes, long-lasting impacts, and approaches to solving the handgun violence outbreak in America. We’ll have a new installment every day this week.

America hasn’t been the same since Feb. 14, 2018.

That’s when a 19-year-old man shot and killed 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and citizens around the country became rightfully outraged. 70% of Americans are fed up with excuses from the government and the National Rifle Association for not taking action about the circumstances that led to one of the deadliest high school shootings in modern American history.

Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, and Cameron Kasky have been just a few of the numerous Parkland students leading what’s been called the #Enough or #NeverAgain movement for handgun reform.

In the midst of unimaginable tragedy, these teens have been unapologetically outspoken about the collective American failure to implement safe, commonsense handgun laws that a majority of Americans now believe in.

Photo by Rhona Wise/ AFP/ Getty Images.

Many have garnered a huge social media following, several have been interviewed by media such as “60 Minutes” and The New Yorker, and the young activists have made it clear they aren’t backing down until things change.

They’re already making a substantial impact on policy changes and “the member states national” conversation and understanding of gun violence. But it’s time to take a step back and remember they weren’t alone in bringing this issue to the forefront.

Some other really amazing teen activists have been fighting for handgun reform for years.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/ Getty Images.

Rather than getting handclap and created fist emojis from thousands of Americans, black youth activists have often been demonized, labeled as “thugs, ” and deemed trivial in the systematic gun reform conversation.

There are the friends of Hadiya Pendleton, a high school honor student who was killed at a park. In January 2013, they started a national Wear Orange movement to campaign against gun violence.

In September 2013, the Dream Defender worked with NAACP leaders in an attempt to repeal the notorious Stand Your Ground law in Florida.

Black youth organized a massive procession in New York City to protest firearm violence and police brutality in December 2014. Tens of thousands of people attended the protest and marched for safety for all people.

In 2015, activist DeRay Mckesson helped launch Campaign Zero, an organization that proposes policy changes to curb gun and police violence.

And in July 2016, four teenage black daughters organized a procession and silent sit-in at Millennium Park to protest gun violence in Chicago communities.

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