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A Powerful Movement: The March for Our Lives

Seniors+Sammy+Koolik+and+Hannah+Bernstein+protesting+at+the+March+for+Our+Lives+event+in+Parkland.
Seniors Sammy Koolik and Hannah Bernstein protesting at the March for Our Lives event in Parkland.

Seniors Sammy Koolik and Hannah Bernstein protesting at the March for Our Lives event in Parkland.

Zachary Shevin

Zachary Shevin

Seniors Sammy Koolik and Hannah Bernstein protesting at the March for Our Lives event in Parkland.

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March 24, 2018 was a day of grieving, anger, and most importantly a call to action.  Students, parents, teachers, activists, and others gathered on this day at March for Our Lives events in over 800 cities worldwide to demand comprehensive gun reform. The organizers of the march specifically called for concrete change on three main gun control issues: an assault weapons ban, a prohibition on the sale of high-capacity magazines, and an end to the gun show and online loopholes in background checks.

The central march took place in Washington D.C. overlooking the Capital Building.  Most of the central organizers of the #NeverAgain movement spoke at this march, such as PC Boca Alum Cameron Kasky, David Hogg, Delaney Tarr, Sarah Chadwick, and Emma Gonzalez, whose speech featured utter silence for just over six minutes to symbolize the amount of time it took Nicolas Cruz to kill his 17 victims.

Gonzalez then concluded her speech emphatically claiming that, “Since the time that I came out here, it has been six minutes and twenty seconds. The shooter has ceased shooting and will soon abandon his rifle, blend in with the students as they escape and walk free for an hour before arrest. Fight for your life before it’s somebody else’s job.”

In addition, there were also speakers from outside of the MSD community including survivors of the Pulse Nightclub and Columbine attacks and students from areas of the country plagued by gun violence daily.  Naomi Wadler , an eleven-year-old girl who led a walkout at her school protesting gun violence, was another standout speaker.  Her powerful speech was dedicated to Courtlin Arrington, Hadiya Pendleton, and Taiyania Thompson, who were African American teens that died at the hands of gun violence.

Nadler used their stories to illustrate a broader point about inadequate media coverage of violence against African-American women saying, “I am here today to acknowledge and represent the African-American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper, whose stories don’t lead on the evening news.  I represent the African-American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant beautiful girls full of potential.”

One of the largest sister marches took place in Parkland, the birthplace of the #NeverAgain movement.  This march featured a speakers list of MSD alumni, current student survivors, teachers, and family members of victims.  After the speakers’ remarks concluded, the 20,000 strong that gathered at Pine Trails Park walked two miles until they reached Majory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of the horrific carnage that occurred just over a month before this event.

Upwards of 30 Pine Crest students attended this march alone, a sign of PC students’ commitment to civic engagement and student activism.  Senior Elliot Reich, who attended the Parkland March, explained the importance of student activism saying, “It is so important for students to get involved because, whether it’s in a couple months or a couple years, the kids who fill our classrooms can soon fill polling places to make real change.”

Elliot’s message of using voting to create political reforms was shared by the leaders of the movement.  They set up voter registration at the marches to help increase voter turnout and prevent those who remain complacent with the status quo from being re-elected.  This was a successful effort, as over 4,000 registered to vote.

This march isn’t the last effort its organizers and from the survivors of the MSD shooting generally.  The march still has millions of dollars left over from donations that will be used on further activism on issues of gun violence and school safety.  David Hogg, one of the movement’s leaders, is calling for the movement to help the Town Hall Project generate town halls with elected official all across the country on April 7th, in an effort to hold them accountable on gun policies.   These inspiring students are continuing to push for legislative change, while also pushing for increased voter participation in the upcoming midterm elections.   Through collective grief, anger, and frustration, students all across the world raised their voices to demand change that would prevent senseless tragedies like at Douglas from ever occurring again.  It is now up to elected officials to implement policies that address these concerns and keep students safe.

Caroline Adkins
Large crowds gather at the March for Our Lives in Parkland to hear impactful speakers discuss gun violence.

Sources: March for Our Lives, Paper Mag, CNN, ABC News, CBS News, The Hill, Elite Daily

 

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A Powerful Movement: The March for Our Lives