In the annual Time magazine list of the most influential people, who writes the blurb for each of the honorees is telling. This year features Black Panther director Ryan Coogler honored by Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay, comedian Tiffany Haddish written up by Kevin Hart, and most notably, the Parkland shooting survivors-turned-activists celebrated by former President Barack Obama.
Obama described Cameron Kasky, Jaclyn Corin, David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez and Alex Wind as "comfortable speaking truth to power as they are dismissive of platitudes and punditry." Open in his disdain for the NRA and those who support it, Obama praises the students. "Seared by memories of seeing their friends murdered at a place they believed to be safe, these young leaders don’t intimidate easily. They see the NRA and its allies—whether mealymouthed politicians or mendacious commentators peddling conspiracy theories—as mere shills for those who make money selling weapons of war to whoever can pay.
"The Parkland, Fla., students don’t have the kind of lobbyists or big budgets for attack ads that their opponents do. Most of them can’t even vote yet," writes the 44th president, "but they have the power so often inherent in youth: to see the world anew; to reject the old constraints, outdated conventions and cowardice too often dressed up as wisdom."
Obama also commends the students for their commitment to intersectionality and ability to reach out to victims of gun violence across racial lines.
"As these young leaders make common cause with African Americans and Latinos—the disproportionate victims of gun violence—and reach voting age, the possibilities of meaningful change will steadily grow," Obama explains.
Other notable Time inclusions included queer actress/writer Lena Waithe, who was honored by California senator Kamala Harris, while Cher wrote the piece on Olympian Adam Rippon, and former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet did the honors for trans actress Daniela Vega.