On Wednesday, students nationwide left class to honor the 17 teenagers who died in the Parkland shooting, and to protest lax gun control laws in the United States.
But on #NationalWalkoutDay, 16-year-old Justin Blackman realized that he was the only student at Wilson Preparatory Academy in Wilson, North Carolina to participate in the protest.
“It’s National Walkout Day, I’m the only one from my school out here,” he said in a video he tweeted. “I’m just going to be chilling here for the next 15 minutes.”
According to CNN, about 700 students attend Wilson Preparatory Academy. Blackman was the only student to leave class. He spent 17 minutes outside, one for every person who died at Stoneman Douglas High School last month, and then walked back to his Spanish class.
The school declined to comment on the issue, but told CNN Blackman is an “independent thinker.”
He didn’t think that anyone would care. “There’s going to be like six people watching this hopefully,” he said in the video.
Instead, Blackman received an outpouring of support from people around the country.
Lindsay Knauf, who’s from Newtown, Connecticut, where the Sandy Hook school shooting occurred in 2012, thanked Blackman for standing up.
“Seeing the action that is finally taking place means the world to all of us here,” she tweeted at him.
I’m from Newtown (Sandy Hook) and seeing the action that is finally taking place means the world to all of us here. Sending all our strength to you who are forcing law makers to sit up and take notice finally.
— Lindsay Knauf (@FloodLakes) March 14, 2018
Filmmaker and A Wrinkle In Time director Ava DuVernay retweeted Blackman’s video with a Martin Luther King Jr. quote: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Alexis Tracton, a freshman at Stoneman Douglas, thanked Blackman. “I’m inspired by you for being a leader,” she tweeted at him, “Every little thing makes a difference.”
Hi Justin I’m a student at Stoneman Douglas. I’m inspired by you for being a leader. Thank you❤️ Every little thing makes a difference
— Lexi #NEVERAGAIN (@LexiLBBH) March 14, 2018
Since it was posted, Blackman’s video was viewed more than 2.6 million times at the time of writing, and has received more than 11,000 comments.
Blackman isn’t the only student to walk out alone at school; second grader Leonardo Aguilar joined the high schoolers in San Jose because he was reportedly the only one to leave his classroom.
And school officials in Sayreville, New Jersey threatened Rosa Rodriguez with suspension for leaving class, but she did it anyway.
This may be the start of Blackman’s career in leadership. The high schooler runs a YouTube channel for gaming, but he’s thinking about starting one dedicated to politics.
“I’m young and I HAVE A VOICE!!!!” he tweeted.