How Maxwell Frost went from organizing students to Congress
My conversation with the first member of Gen Z elected to Congress
Last night, young Americans saved democracy. They stood up for freedom — the freedom to choose our leaders, the freedom to control our bodies, the freedom to thrive on a planet that thrives in turn.
And one of those young people became the first member of Gen Z elected to Congress.
Today, in honor of this generational uprising, I’m re-sharing my conversation with Maxwell Frost, the 25-year-old activist against gun violence, who won big last night.
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“The South can show the way forward in the progressive movement”: a conversation with Democratic congressional candidate Maxwell Frost
How did your journey into politics begin?
My journey started ten years ago. I'm an artist and went to an art school for middle and high school here in Orlando. I was a drummer, and before every jazz band concert, my best friends and I would go to this Fridays across the street to load up on a bunch of junk food.
I remember that night specifically because we were sitting and eating when this silence fell across the entire restaurant. Everyone simultaneously looked up at the television screens and saw that somebody had walked into an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, and murdered 20 children and six teachers. Seeing that on the screen had a big impact on me. I couldn't play right at the show that night. I kept thinking about it in school.
I felt like I needed to go to the vigil that was going on in Washington, D.C., a few weeks later. It was there that I had my call to action. The night of the vigil, I sat with some of the victims' families at a hotel pool in Virginia. We were just wading our feet in the water, and across from me was a guy named Matthew Soto. His sister, Vicky, was a teacher at Sandy Hook. When she heard the gunshots, she hid her class in the closet and around the classroom. She saved their lives, but she was murdered.
I remember hearing Matthew talk about his sister. He was 16 at the time. Seeing a teenager cry with the demeanor of a 60-year-old over his sister who was murdered for just going to school changed my whole life. I thought about my little sister and decided that, for the rest of my life, I wanted to fight for a world where no one has to feel the way I saw Matthew feel that night. That's what got me into politics.
I started working straight out of high school on campaigns across the state. I worked for the ACLU at both the state and national level, then as the national organizing director at March for Our Lives.
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