Parkland students launch #StoriesUntold to amplify overlooked voices in the gun debate

At an Axios-hosted discussion on guns one day before the historic March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., student activist David Hogg was asked a simple question: What did the media miss while covering the deadly shooting at his high school in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14?

Hogg, a 17-year-old senior from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who by then had appeared at least a dozen times on TV, offered a pointed reply: “Not giving black students a voice.”

A rally following the National School Walkout. (Photo: Getty Images)
A rally following the National School Walkout. (Photo: Getty Images)

His call to action inspired media organizations to reflect on their own coverage and spurred some, like CNN, to make up for lost time. But for those who feel routinely left out of discussions on gun violence, a few news stories aren’t enough to remedy the problem.

So, in interest of continuing to amplify voices of color and others left out of the conversation, Stoneman Douglas student Carlitos Rodriguez launched a new movement, giving it a name that encapsulates its mission: #StoriesUntold.

The platform, consisting of both a Twitter page and hashtag, launched on April 2 with a 42-second video in which Rodriguez appears with other classmates, mentioning things they remember from that tragic day. “My life was changed forever,” one student says. “I saw things that no one should ever have to see,” another adds. 

After a tweet from Alyssa Milano, the movement began to take off, catching the attention of Teen Vogue. As that hashtag began circulating, students began sharing #StoriesUntold on the page, some from students present at the shooting in Parkland, some from entirely different tragedies.

One retweet tells the story of Jamahri Sydnor, a teenager shot and killed just days before she was set to start college. Another from a Stoneman Douglas student named Elissa, who looks back on her final moments with Helena Ramsey, a 17-year-old junior who was killed in her classroom. 

On Wednesday, the platform announced it would soon be ready to share a story that the whole nation has been waiting to hear — that of Anthony Borges, the Stoneman Douglas student who endured five bullet wounds while shielding 20 classmates from the shooter.

Initially in critical condition, Borges was visited by teachers and local police officers throughout his five-week stay in the hospital, some of whom posted pictures during his recovery. The brave 15-year-old was shot three times in the legs, once near his liver, and once in his chest, requiring doctors to remove a third of his lung. After over a month in recovery, he was finally released this week.

In a #StoriesUntold video, one of the first of Borges since the shooting, he appears sitting upright — first in a hospital bed and later at home. “I’m Anthony Borges from Venezula,” he says softly to the camera. “I was face-to-face with Nicolas Cruz, and he shot me five times. … My story deserves to be told.”

After releasing the video, @StoriesUntoldUS posted a GoFundMe for Borges’s family to help cover medical bills; one that — as of publishing — was just $200,000 shy of its $1 million goal. Once Borges recovers, the platform says it plans to release a full video of him discussing the incident.

Until then, the students behind the movement will shine a light on the stories that the media overlooked—including their own. 

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