George Clooney Thanks Parkland Students Fighting for Gun Control for Making Him “Proud of My Country Again”

“Amal and I stand behind you.”

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This weekend, The Guardian‘s digital coverage of the March for Our Lives against gun violence is being guest-edited by student journalists from The Eagle Eye, Stoneman Douglas High’s newspaper. Co-editors-in-chief Emma Dowd, Lauren Newman, and Rebecca Schneid asked George Clooney, who, along with his wife, Amal, donated $500,000 to the march, for an interview. And although Clooney opted not to be interviewed by the Parkland students, he did send a heartfelt letter to the trio, published in The Guardian on Friday, in which he thanked them for their courage and determination in fighting for common-sense gun control legislation and pledged his continued support to their movement.

In explaining why he turned down the interview, the actor expressed his desire to keep the focus off him and other adults who have donated their time and money to the march, and on the students at its forefront. “Amal and I are 100 [percent] behind you and will be marching in D.C. on the 24th, but we both feel very strongly that this is your march. Your moment. Young people are taking it to the adults and that has been your most effective tool,” he wrote. “The fact that no adults will speak on the stage in D.C. is a powerful message to the world that if we can’t do something about gun violence, then you will. The issue is going to be this, anyone you ask would feel proud to be interviewed by you, but it’s so much more effective if it’s young people.”

Clooney went on to suggest ideas for the Parkland students’ Guardian coverage. “You could talk to a dozen kids, like the young kids from Chicago and L.A. that Emma met with. You could take over The Guardian and make it tell the stories of children by children. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to point to this moment and say it belongs to you. You certainly should do what you want, but that would be my hope for you,” he wrote, adding, “Amal and I stand behind you, in support of you, in gratitude to you. You make me proud of my country again. Thank you.”

The Clooneys announced their donation to the March for Our Lives in February, shortly after the march was organized. “Amal and I are so inspired by the courage and eloquence of these young men and women from Stoneman Douglas High School,” they wrote in a statement to Variety at the time. “Our family will be there on March 24 to stand side-by-side with this incredible generation of young people from all over the country, and in the name of our children Ella and Alexander, we’re donating $500,000 to help pay for this groundbreaking event. Our children’s lives depend on it.” Within a few days, Oprah Winfrey, Kate and Steven Spielberg, and Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg had each matched the Clooneys’ generous contribution, per Variety. “George and Amal, I couldn’t agree with you more,” Winfrey tweeted. “I am joining forces with you and will match your $500,000 donation to ‘March for Our Lives.’ These inspiring young people remind me of the Freedom Riders of the ’60s who also said we’ve had ENOUGH and our voices will be heard.”

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