People all over the country were affected by the Feb. 14 massacre in Parkland, Florida, but for Karamo Brown, it hit deep.
The Queer Eye star attended and graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in 1999, 19 years before a shooter unleashed fire on campus, killing 17 people. One of the victims was assistant football coach Aaron Feiss, a former classmate of Brown's.
That personal significance was just one reason why Brown decided to stand up and join those protesting gun violence at the March for Our Lives demonstration in Washington, D.C. on Saturday -- where he told ET more about his reaction to the movement.
"To see that school, my high school, on television, and students be running out of the same hallways that I used to walk around gleefully broke my heart," he expressed. "You know, not only as an alum, but also as a parent now, thinking about those precious lives that were lost, it means it’s time for change. Enough is enough."
Brown, who is dad to two sons, ages 17 and 21, continued: "Anytime someone gets shot, whether it's an unarmed African American male, or whether it's a school shooting, my sons immediately come to my mind."
"I look at these kids and I see my own kids, and I can’t help but think about the parents who are grieving for their children that are lost, because no parent should ever outlive their child. It just shouldn’t happen," he said. "So the fact that this happened at my high school, and the students said, ‘Enough is enough, and we’re going to step up and make sure that this never happens again’... it just makes me so proud."
Brown credits his high school for "turning me into the man I am today." "Our school motto was be positive, be passionate and be proud, and when I look at what these kids are doing, it reminds me of the young activist I became at Douglas," he shared. "Today in my speech, I'm talking about Aaron Feiss... we were classmates. He was class of '99, just like me."
"I’m getting chills just even talking about him, because on so many levels, to see these kids lose their lives, but also to see one of my classmates lose his life, it just shows us that we have to step up. We have to continue to do the work, because we can’t see people lose their lives over senseless gun violence," Brown said.
"For me to be part of this march is special on so many levels," he added. "As an alum from Stoneman Douglas, seeing students from my high school and step up and lead the way, but also as a parent, to see young people saying, ‘We’re not going to stand by and let politicians or whatever else... to get in the way.’ They are standing up for what they know is right, and are guiding us down a path that I’m so proud of."
Brown is also proud of the other celebrities who have stepped up, either donating money or their time to march alongside those fighting for stricter gun legislation.
"Celebrities have a platform, and people listen to them. And there’s a lot of people that we are able to touch, who aren’t watching activists and aren’t watching the news, that are watching what celebrities say," he explained. "So for George Clooney to come out and say that he believes in America again because of the students from my high school, it makes me proud."
"I also know that it’s opening up minds and hearts of people who might have been closed off before," Brown added. "Now, because they’ve heard that, they’re willing to say, ‘You know what? Let me reconsider and look at this issue a little differently.'"
See more on how stars got involved in the March for Our Lives protests in the video below.
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