Sense of Purpose
Four Montgomery County teens who are pushing for stricter gun control
Photo by Liz Lynch.
Onstage at the March for Our Lives, Matt Post chatted with the speaker who would follow him, a high school student from Atlanta named Yolanda King. “Discussing her soccer team with the granddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr. was totally surreal,” he says. When it was his turn to speak, nervousness drained away as Post strode forward and stood behind a microphone, flanked by Levitan, Solomon and Tinbite. After introducing his fellow students, he began to speak, frequently punctuating his words by thrusting a closed fist into the air as the crowd cheered.
“Our politicians still lack the compassion to act. And when that cold inaction continues to fuel endless bloodshed, it’s not difficult to diagnose the moral health problem of this country,” Post, 18, declared.
“Where they embrace an extremism of complacency, we embrace an extremism of love. Where they believe in the absolutism of an amendment, we believe in the absolutism of human life.”
Raised in a family where social justice is a belief and a goal—his mother is a social worker and his father teaches food chemistry at the University of the District of Columbia—Post is a prime-time ready, politically savvy voice for his generation. He says his interest in policymaking has grown throughout high school and led to his campaign for the school board seat. After the Parkland shooting, he raised the issue of gun control at a Feb. 26 school board session, successfully imploring his much older colleagues to approve a resolution “urging national and state policymakers to pass legislation intended to reduce gun violence and protect our students.” Just over two weeks later he delivered his speech at the March 14 rally.
The night before the March for Our Lives, Post worked on his speech until 1 a.m. He got up at 6:30, ate a peanut butter granola bar and drove himself to Tinbite’s home in Silver Spring, where the chauffeured Cadillac SUV was to collect the four at 7:30. Solomon was already there, being shadowed by a French TV crew. “I realized the world was watching,” Post says. “It raised the stakes for me.”
By the time Hudson closed the rally with her rousing gospel hymn, Post was linking arms with the other speakers, all of whom used a peace sign or a clenched-fist salute to augment their message. It felt like a turning point, Post said later.
“I was never prouder to be an American,” he says. “Maybe things will be different this time.”
Reflecting on that day weeks later, Post says he found that his political ideology had changed. “The experience taught me that politics is not a polite debate society. Politics is the brute exercise of morality. It reminded me that we should talk about politics in human terms,” he says. “When politicians fail, it profoundly damages people, sometimes kills them. …We need a more compassionate government. Any person in power must realize the human stakes in any issue.”
Steve Goldstein is a freelance writer and editor. To comment on this story, email email@example.com.