A majority of Hume-Fogg students did not plan to participate in National Walkout Day. In fact, administrators encouraged students to stay inside the school's auditorium for a student-led rally, which would then be followed by a pre-scheduled speech from Tarana Burke, who launched the Me Too movement into the national spotlight.
But when Burke took the stage shortly after walkouts had begun across the country, she recognized the moment for what it was.
"I’m curious, who here wanted to walk out today but thought they might get in trouble?" Burke asked. "That's a lot of people."
Burke told students activism does not come with a hall pass and their voices should never be stifled because of their age.
"It is injustice what is happening to young people right now around the country. It is injustice that you have to come to school and be afraid that someone might shoot you or take your life," Burke said. "It’s injustice that your legislators will not make laws that protect you. You have to push back. They work for you."
So Burke stepped off the stage, grabbed her coat, and followed students as they led her to the Tennessee State Capitol.
"When the time comes and the spotlight is on you, raise your voice," she said. "Don’t worry about your age. This is your moment, this is your time. They have to listen to you. They will listen to you."