Kira Davis never met King Thomas III, but she felt a connection to him that she couldn’t explain. “I just felt like he was there with me,” she said. “We were the same age. He was a true kid with passion, just like me.”
King was shot and killed during a home invasion in Fort Worth, Texas. He was only 15, the same age as Davis when she set out to write a portrait about his life. “I wanted his legacy to be something he would have wanted,” said Davis, who lives in Los Angeles.
Davis learned about King, an aspiring rapper, by listening to music he performed and posted on SoundCloud. That research gave her the direction she needed to write something she thought would do King justice. She composed the profile in the form of a rap.
Davis’s tribute was one of more than a thousand written by student journalists for “Since Parkland,” a yearlong project by The Trace and The Miami Herald. In 100-word profiles, teen reporters memorialize young people fatally shot during the 12 months that began with the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The project grew out of the realization that the national gun debate had become a conversation with and about kids. Reporters and editors at The Trace and The Herald wanted to help readers understand the scale and contours of gun violence, beyond school shootings. And they wanted young people to be the driving force in their coverage.
Beatrice Motamedi, founder of the student journalism network Global Student Square and one of two senior editors on the project, positioned the concept to students as a way to take ownership of an issue that’s come to define their childhood. “This is not my generation’s story anymore,” she told them.
“This is really yours.”