In the wake of Florida’s worst school shooting, teenagers have turned their grief into hope, organizing protests at high schools and planning a nationwide march against gun violence scheduled for next month in Washington.
Now, a group of about 15 Broward County teens is planning a benefit concert to help the Marjory Stoneman Douglas community heal and to keep alive a rekindled debate over gun control.
Emilie Smith, an 18-year-old senior at North Broward Preparatory School, said she and her friends — including Stoneman Douglas students and alumni — began organizing the concert on Thursday and have been in talks with representatives for pop singers like Dua Lipa and Camila Cabello. They’re raising money on a GoFundMe page.
Smith announced her plans Friday morning through a post on Twitter that has amassed more than 5,000 “retweets” and 14,000 “likes.” As of Friday, the group’s GoFundMe has raised a little over $1,000.
Though an exact date and venue for the planned show have not been finalized, some musical acts have already agreed to perform. They include The Aces, COIN, American Authors, Amanda Palmer, Anthony D’amato, Sawyer Fredricks, Rex Orange County.
“It’s very touching,” Smith said. “Now we know that the entire country is on our side.”
In the days after a former Stoneman Douglas student used an AR-15 assault rifle to kill 17 students and faculty at the Parkland school on Valentine’s Day, a group of student survivors have used their social media prowess to lobby for stricter gun laws in the country. This #NeverAgain movement has raised millions of dollars from Hollywood celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney, and its members have made the rounds on the TV talk show circuit and in Tallahassee and the White House.
Although the #NeverAgain movement is not officially involved in the benefit concert, its members have supported the effort on social media.
“We’re doing it for the 17 victims,” Smith said.
Sebastian Gonzalez, a 19-year-old who graduated from Stoneman Douglas last year, watched the tragedy unfold from New York and felt a need to help.
“I definitely wantde to get involved in trying to not only change the laws in our country but trying to bring our community together,” Gonzalez said. “We want to show the world we can pull through this.”