Joaquin Oliver's Parents Appear on Their Son's Behalf at Parkland Graduation

A Parkland victim’s mom wore a shirt that read “this should be my son,” while accepting his high school diploma.  

“Some people thought that we weren’t gonna show at graduation because it was too sad,” said Manuel Oliver, who is Parkland victim Joaquin Oliver’s father. “And the way we think is that in order to make your point, you need to take these opportunities and just change it. Flip them. Yes, it is sad, but it’s not as important as sending a message.”

Joaquin was a 17-year-old high school senior who died in the Parkland shooting. His parents, as well as other victims’ family members walked the stage to accept a posthumous diploma. Joaquin’s father ran through the audience, while his mom accepted his diploma and defiantly protested his absence.

The Olivers came to the U.S. from Venezuela. They have become advocates for gun reform and have joined Joaquin’s peers in their fight against the gun lobby.

“We believe in these kids. 100%. We think that they are the hope that we’re looking for. They represent kids. They’re not the ‘Parkland Kids.’ They are the generation that is bringing change to the nation,” Manuel explained, in reference to the student survivors.