I woke up at 3:45 am to get ready for my trip to Washington, DC. I picked up my student, Rain, who was coming with me, and we headed to the airport. We arrived in DC around 9:30 am and went to the hotel to get ready for our day.
Patrick from the Former Members of Congress (FMC) met us at the Fairfax Hotel and took us to the Capitol. We met up with Peter, CEO of FMC and went to the Congressional dining hall. We had lunch with Congressmen Dan Maffei (D-NY), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) & Rodney Davis (R-IL). We spoke about policies, some of what we experienced in Parkland, student civic and social engagement, arming teachers, and what they, as lawmakers, can do to help us. It was absolutely unbelievable to be sitting with these men. I met Joe Kennedy in March at a local event for Democrats. When I mentioned that, he remembered who I was. I also told him that my mom had worked on Robert Kennedy’s campaign, which is when his whole face changed. He looked to appreciative and gave me a hug. He told me to thank my mom for her service and help.
After lunch, we had a private tour of the Capitol by an intern from Congressman Davis’ office. I haven’t been to DC since 1989, and definitely didn’t visit the Capitol. It was so cool to see where the House & Senate meet, as well as hear things about how the government works and was founded. After the tour, we headed back to the hotel to rest and get ready for our evening panel at the National Archives.
When we arrived at the National Archives for the event, we were taken to the green room, where we met our fellow panelists. We had the honor of speaking with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Congressman Tom Petri (R-WI), Congresswoman Jane Harmon (D-CA) and Ted Deutch joined us, as well. We also met Congressman Martin Frost, as well as David Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States – which is a pretty kick-ass job to have!
The program lasted for about 90 minutes. It focused on civic engagement and social activism, and spanned from the Civil Rights movement to what we’re doing at MSD. It was amazing to sit on the stage with such accomplished lawmakers, but also people who were activists in their own right. The thing that struck my the most was that Congresswoman Holmes Norton focused her time praising and speaking about us, and less about what she did in the 1960s with John Lewis and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I was truly humbled by that.
At the end of the evening, we met David, who would be our tour guide the following day at the Newseum. He was warm, friendly and hilarious, and immediately reminded me of My Best Friend Mike Taylor. We said out good-byes to Patrick & Peter, and thanked them for this unbelievable opportunity. We went back to the hotel for the evening.
The next morning, we arrived at the Newseum at 9 a.m. for our tour. David met us and began to take us around, showing us all of the exhibits and explaining everything to us. I had never been there before; as a journalist and publication adviser, I totally geeked out. These are my people. David drew comparisons in the 1968 exhibit about the parallels between those kids and the MSD/Parkland kids. It really was surreal, and 100% accurate. We spent four hours there, which felt like five minutes. After our tour ended, I spent way too much money in the gift shop. His wife met us there, and they insisted to take us to lunch and the airport. We had a lovely journey through DC and on the subway, and ate lunch at Ben’s Chili Bowl.
We boarded the plane and headed home. It was the most amazing, exhausting two days of my life.