Student activist David Hogg spoke at the University of Connecticut on March 4 as part of UConn’s spring 2019 Metanoia, the theme of which is Youth for Change.
Hogg is a survivor of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people in Parkland, Fla. last Valentine’s Day.
Several hundred people attended the event, which was held in the UConn Student Union Theater.
Since the shooting, Hogg has become a leader in protesting against gun violence and the National Rifle Association. He is part of the student-led gun control advocacy group Never Again MSD and helped organize the March for Our Lives demonstration that took place in multiple countries around the world on March 24, 2018.
Throughout his speech, Hogg urged the audience to vote in the upcoming 2020 election and emphasized the importance of young people letting their voices be heard, citing the bill on universal background checks that passed in the House of Representatives last month as an example.
“We had the first bill [about] gun violence prevention pass the House of Representatives because each and every one of you stood up and made that a voting issue [. . .] and told Congress that if you stand by the NRA, you are not going to be in power anymore because the young people will vote you out,” Hogg said.
He compared the abundance of media attention he and his classmates received after the shooting to gun-related deaths of teenagers in other cities.
Hogg said the daily gun deaths of teenagers in areas like Chicago, Los Angeles or D.C. receive little to no media coverage at all. Instead, he said, these deaths are covered as gang violence.
Hogg said the reason for this unbalanced media coverage lies in the differences in race and economic status.
Hogg also discouraged students from directing their activism towards or against one particular party or politician, saying the only way to stop gun violence everywhere is to stop the corporations and systems that fuel gun sales and promote passing gun laws.
“Honestly, I don’t care if you’re Democrat, I don’t care if you’re Republican. I care if you actually keep your word,” Hogg said. “Let your enemy not be an individual congressman, [do] not let your enemy be an individual person, but be the source of evil itself, because that is what we must be working towards and addressing as Americans.”
For junior elementary education major Marisa Nazzaro, Hogg’s story and message were particularly important to her.
“I’m going into education, so his story definitely hits home and is something that I’m very motivated to learn more about and be more actively involved in,” Nazzaro said.
Hogg’s presence also resonated with senior business management major Ellie Grafstein.
“It’s cool to listen to someone like him speak because he clearly has no obligations other than this is something he’s really passionate about and truly believes in,” Grafstein said. “He’s doing this solely because he thinks this is what’s going to help the most people.”
For more information about the Parkland shooting, see the New York Times article here.