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Honorable Mentions

The teenager who leads the local fight for gun law reforms

Vikiana Petit-Homme was a high school junior when she helped organize two substantial marches advocating firearm restrictions. Now she wants to lower the voting age.

Vikiana Petit-Homme emerged as a Boston-area leader of the youth-driven gun reform effort March for Our Lives while still a junior in high school.
Vikiana Petit-Homme emerged as a Boston-area leader of the youth-driven gun reform effort March for Our Lives while still a junior in high school. (Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff)

The first time she stayed out all night, Vikiana Petit-Homme was with a few other teens prepping for the March for Our Lives Boston kick-off meeting. That Friday night in February, Petit-Homme, then 16 and a junior at Boston Latin Academy, joined a movement that would see thousands of students nationwide call for stricter gun laws in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting earlier that month.

Petit-Homme helped coordinate a rally March 24 that drew an estimated 50,000 protesters to Boston, and soon after was named executive director of March for Our Lives Boston. She went on to help organize August’s 50 Miles More march from Worcester to Smith & Wesson headquarters in Springfield. As a young black American woman — and Haitian immigrant — it was important to her that the fight be inclusive, and that people recognize students of color across the country had already been protesting against violence.

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“That wasn’t in the narrative,” says Petit-Homme, now 17 and a senior. “Students of color are disproportionately facing these problems and they are being overlooked. We have to make sure they are advocated for and constantly part of the conversation.”

Petit-Homme says her mother raised her to speak her mind, and take action. “She taught me my voice matters,” she says, taking a bite of her cookies-and-cream cone at J.P. Licks in Jamaica Plain. She’s an ice cream-loving, Beyoncé-singing teen applying to colleges, who also happens to serve on the Mayor’s Youth Council and engage in political activism.

Next on her agenda is taking March for Our Lives Boston beyond gun reform. Members want to lower the voting age to 16 in Massachusetts. “We can drive and we can work, but we can’t vote?” she says. “I can pay taxes but I am not getting representation in my government. Taxation without representation coming from Boston is ridiculous. Boston is a pioneering city. We can move things forward.” Power to the people — of all ages.

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Jeneé Osterheldt is a Boston Globe culture writer. She can be reached at jenee.osterheldt@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @sincerelyjenee.