Fear Has No Place in School
What started as a movement to protest against gun violence quickly spiraled into a nationwide phenomenon which will go down in history as a powerful statement geared toward the NRA and the government to pass stricter gun laws. With nearly a million students and various other supporters assembling in the streets in Washington D.C., the time has come for young adults across the nation to have their voices heard and fight for the change that many Americans are desperate to see.
After the 17 lives of students and teachers were lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, students, who were survivors of the horrific shooting, decided that enough was enough. Just four days after the deadly event, students planned to march for their lives. The student-led demonstration, March For Our Lives, was created shortly after.
The march was set for Saturday, March 24th in Washington D.C., as well as other major cities across the globe. An estimated 2 million people rallied together in the United States in total, making it one of the largest youth protests in American history. Despite that, people of all ages that range from young to old voiced their support for stricter gun policies.
About 850,000 people banded together in Washington D.C., with the crowd stretching along the entirety of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Big-name celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato took the stage in support of the march and performed. Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt, two notable names on Broadway, also came together to perform a mash-up of Dear Evan Hansen’s “You Will Be Found” and Hamilton’s “Story of Tonight.” The song, Found / Tonight quickly became the anthem for the newer generation of marchers.
The crowd began chanting “Vote them out!” and cheering on the students on the stage who voiced their thoughts on gun control. Naomi Wadler, an 11 year old who helped stage a walkout at her elementary school, and David Hogg, one of many survivors of the Parkland shooting and organizers for March For Our Lives, were among those speakers.
Emma Gonzáles, another Parkland survivor that has actively denounced gun violence, sparked emotion by saying very little and staying silent for 6 minutes and 20 seconds, which, according to her, was the time it took for everyone’s lives in the Douglass community to be forever altered. Emotions ran high as these students stood in front of thousands of people to speak their minds and reason for change.
Many teachers were also present at the march, holding up signs that read “I march for my students” and “Arm us with resources, not guns!” These educators marched side-by-side with their students and insisted they should not have to carry guns in their classrooms, as supporters of the NRA had suggested.
WCTA students on their senior trip to Washington were able to witness history right in the heart of the nation’s capital. Standing on the terrace of the Newseum, these students had a breath-taking view of the march below. Olivia Esmurdoc, Ashley Jansen, and Collin Swords were among the five seniors from WCTA that were there to see the march in person.
“At the march, we were fortunate to get a birds-eye-view. I couldn't believe the atmosphere of love and support I felt from everyone around me,” said Swords, “There were students everywhere marching for what they believe in, and that energy was amazing. The best thing I took away was to stay politically active, and vote in the next election to change the government.”
Ms. Rivera-Negron, a government teacher at WCTA and chaperone on the trip said, “ Seeing nearly a million people in one place altogether, protesting and making signs, has more of an impact and puts more pressure on the government. I think it’s really important, not just for students but for young adults in general to participate in these rallies and protests as way for them to voice their political opinion.”
This march marked the start of a new era -- one where a new generation, no matter how young, is the thundering force of change. The march, as successful as it was, is only the beginning. The fight doesn’t stop there as students continue to rally their forces, inspire others, and pave the way for reform.
Photo Credit: Jasel Layson
Supporters of all ages band together in Washington D.C. to push for stricter gun laws.