The latest wave of US activism has been dominated by an even younger group than usual: high schoolers. But are they headed for disillusionment?
Thousands of young people have protested against gun control over the past weeks, sparking, for some, memories of youngsters protesting against the Vietnam war and contributing to the civil rights movement.
The difference is that the 2018 movement is stemming from high schools, rather than colleges.
Its really unusual, said Doug McAdam, the author of Deeply Divided: Racial Politics and Social Movements in America.
Young people are typically overrepresented among the ranks of activists, but those are almost always university students or young adults.
In the 1960s, demonstrations and protests swept across college campuses throughout the US. Student activists were at the forefront of the free speech and anti-Vietnam war movements, and many campuses were heavily involved in the civil rights movement.
Thousands of students occupied the Sheraton Palace hotel in Berkeley in 1964, protesting discriminatory hiring practices, while the anti-war protests that saw 100,000 people march on Washington DC in 1967 were fueled by campus unrest which had already seen students burn draft cards and attack Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) buildings at campuses.
Dana R Fisher, professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, said a parallel could be drawn between young people taking action against something that could directly affect them.
The Vietnam war and all of the protests around that, many of them focusing on university campuses, were because of the students direct sense of risk – they were at risk of being drafted and having to serve in the military, she said.
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