Parkland Parent Speaks on Legacy of His Son, Supporting Black Lives Matter Movement

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NBC 6's Roxanne Vargas sat down with Manuel Oliver, whose son Joaquin was one of the victims of the tragic Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland. Oliver has a one man show called "Guac My Son, My Hero," that honors Joaquin.

The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Roxy: You and your wife Patricia are organizing a Black Lives Matter protest this Saturday. Tell us why this is important for your family.

Manuel: We’re just extending Joaquin’s legacy and Joaquin’s principles. Some of the kids from Parkland decided to do this march, and I agree with them and I support them. So that’s how we got involved with it, and I’m assuming there are a lot of people who will show their support to what we do. 

Roxy: Manuel, I want to pull up this picture that you sent me of Joaquin holding up a sign from a march he participated in, in 2017. Tell me about it.

Manuel: That explains the brace attitude that my son had against injustice. There’s a lot of things that I’ve been learning from my son, today and over the last few years. By learning from Joaquin, I also think that the voice of the youth, it’s something that we should listen to. If I’m listening to the voice of my son, 2 years and something after he was shot down, I don’t find a reason for any other parent not to listen to their kids. This is a common issue. In Joaquin’s case it was gun violence inside his school, but we all know this is beyond schools. The Black Lives Matter movement suffers not only from violence but also from racism and a lot of denigration in several ways, and we think that that deserves not only our support, but support form anyone that understands that pain is something that we should fight together.

Roxy: You said you continue to learn a lot from your son. In his legacy, through your action, he’s impacted so many. What else have you learned from Guac?

Manuel: I was 50 years old when my son was murdered. Since that day, a part of me has also died. Now, I'm living the life that Joaquin is not able to live. So I react like a 17 year old, I understand the 17 year old; that's about having the right to go out and vote, and I also believe the future of this nation is in their hands. It's my duty to support that as a father, as a friend, and as an activist.

Roxy: We’ve see the community of Parkland rally together so many times, so you certainly understand the power of numbers, of raising your voice peacefully and seeking to making a change. Is that something else that moves you, and Patricia, to take part of this movement with Black Lives Matter right now?

Manuel: The Parkland community sometimes surprises me. I really hope that they show, because I’ve heard a lot of support on social media, but one thing is supporting on social media, another thing is showing your face and being part of a movement in an active way. I understand that because of the pandemic some people won’t show. I understand if it rains, it might make some people stay home, but this is beyond our comfort zone. I invite all the community to be there, show the same support that you showed a little more than two years ago, and remember what happened to us. (We should reflect on) what happened to us happened that day. It’s a matter of supporting (the Black Lives Matter movement), and if we keep saying we’re going to solve this together, let’s start showing that we really mean that.

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