Letter from Ann Braden

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Dear Courageous Students,

It takes my breath away to see your bravery and your insistence on turning your anger into action. Your voices are so powerful. For years the gun lobby has been working hard to prevent any progress on gun laws, but you have already proven that you can cut through their rhetoric and hold up the truth for the whole country to see. When you are effective like that, there will likely be people who try to bully you online by telling you that you don’t know what you’re doing and filling comments with personal attacks. But their attacks are hollow because their goal is to get you to give up, and know this: there are so many of us who support you. By raising your voices you are making a huge difference — and ultimately it will save lives.

I was on the front lines of this issue in Vermont for several years, and in my experience the bullying was the worst at the beginning. Once they figure out it won’t get you to quit, it becomes more half-hearted. I found an app that would hide online comments from various websites, and I surrounded myself by people (real people) that I trusted. I ended up discovering that I was far stronger than I ever thought I was. Being challenged like that and finding your way to that inner strength can be life-changing.

Still, listen to your instincts. If you need to take a break, take a break. Because of your amazing examples, many others are now stepping up, too. When you need to take a breath, there will be others who can take your place.

Thank you for finding the courage to make your voice heard. Know that you are loved by many — and that you are making history.

Love,
Ann Braden, Author