What’s a Walkout?


Walkouts are a form of nonviolent protest in which participants walk out of an institution to voice their desire for change, challenging the status quo. The tactic has a long history in the United States that includes various movements led by youth of color.

In the 1960s, young Chicano activists in Los Angeles demanded bilingual and bicultural education programs, as well as a more representative teaching staff and better school infrastructure. To make their demands heard, they planned a wave of school walkouts. The weeklong walkouts of more than 15,000 LA-based students in March 1968 launched the Chicano civil rights movement.

In December 2014, following the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and the resulting grand jury decisions not to indict white police officers, walkouts occurred around the country, drawing attention to the relationships between police and communities of color. Most recently, Dreamers in the Washington, DC region organized a walkout on November 9th, 2017 and rallied at the US Capitol to demand legislation protecting 800,000 young immigrants from deportation.

Continuing in the tradition of walkouts, The National School Walkout, organized and led by students angered by the inaction seen in Congress, will take place on April 20, 2018—the 19th anniversary of the Columbine Massacre. Tens of thousands of students will walk out of their schools at 10:00 AM local time, and leave school for the day. If lawmakers won’t commit to common sense measures to make schools safer, students won’t stand idly by.