It’s hard to be human and not be moved by the groundswell that is being led by the children of America. Just a few days ago, hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Washington D.C., standing shoulder-to-shoulder, turning small voices into a single voice that is large, loud and demanding to be heard. The March for Our Lives in Washington, led by senior students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, did not exist in the singular. Tens of thousands more brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, cousins, friends and neighbours gathered at “sibling marches” in major cities across the United States and the world. All with one goal, to demand that legislators take action to reduce gun violence.
“We might still be 11, we might still be in elementary school, but we know that life isn’t equal for everyone… We also know that we stand in the shadow of the Capitol, and we know that we have seven short years until we too have the right to vote.”
– Naomi Wadler.
Here in Australia, the idea that gun attacks is such a common occurrence in schools that only ‘major’ incidences across America are reported in the news is truly hard to comprehend. As teachers, as parents, heck even when we were school students ourselves, it is almost incomprehensible to us that a child, a teenager or an adult can walk into a school, armed with the means to kill those around them. So, when we hear about and connect with experiences of the thousands of students, the thousands of families and the thousands of teachers in America who have lost sons, daughters, friends and students due to gun violence in schools, it’s hard to know what we here in Australia can do, if anything at all.
We all share the same wishes – particularly as educators – to ensure that all children have access to safe and inspiring places of learning. And so, if all we can do right now is add our voice to this cause and, perhaps, bring a little more visibility to the actions of these inspiring young people, then that’s what we’ll do.
March for Our Lives Speeches
There were more than a dozen speeches on the Washington stage. Every single one of the speakers, who were high school age or younger, shared messages that were powerful, persuasive and moving.
Crowds in Washington and others watching live streams around the world listened to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students Cameron Kasky, David Hogg, Delaney Tarr, Sarah Chadwick, Alex Wind, Jaclyn Corin, Ryan Deitsch, Aalayah Eastmond, Sam Fuentes, and Emma González.
Naomi Wadler from Virginia, Tre Bosley from Chicago whose brother was shot and killed leaving church, Edna Chavez, a high school student from Los Angeles and Zion Kelly, whose twin brother was shot and killed during an armed robbery each spoke to both their hope and grief.
The powerful, collective rhetoric was furthered by words from Yolonda Reene King, the granddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr., along with Mya Middleton from Chicago, Matt Post, a senior from Montgomery County, Christopher Underwood, an 11-year old from New York, Alex King and D’Angelo McDade from Chicago and Matthew Soto, brother of Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting victim Victoria Soto.
Each of these amazing young people conquered their own fears and emotions to raise their voices to the cause, supported by their friends and family who sat in the wings.
Teenager Cameron Kasky, who is a part of the core group behind the march, has said that he feels some guilt that it was a shooting in his own school that gave him the impetus to stand up and make some noise.
“I wish that I had been able to be a part of this before I had to feel it at home, and I almost feel guilty that it took my community taking 17 bullets, and it took us feeling that anguish, for us to get involved.”
– Cameron Kasky on The Ellen Show, February 2018
But these young people are making noise. And while their nation’s legislators might not yet be listening, the whole world can hear it.
The March for Our Lives rally has gained media coverage around the world, bringing visibility to the stories and experiences of young people across America who have experienced and been touched by gun violence. The power of their collective voices is making it clear that while it’s improbable that gun violence can be stopped altogether, mass shootings like the ones that have occurred in so many schools and public venues around the U.S. can and must stop.
This generation of kids are intelligent and aware.
They know how to communicate through the means that matter most right now – and yes, that means on social and other popular medias, through videos and photos as well as through the power of words.
They are a generation connected – and connected for the better.
Continued Momentum for Change
The March for Our Lives campaign, which is now transitioning to be known as the Fight for Our Lives campaign, continues to press forward after the deafening roar of Saturday’s #neveragain. These students are not just fighting for change with protest, turning their focus towards the kind of activism they know can make a difference in the long run, like encouraging young people to enrol to vote, raising money for lobbying at local, state and federal levels.
One thing’s for sure, these passionate and eloquent teenagers will keep the fire burning under important conversations that are currently going in the media, continuing to get their message to as many people as possible.
“My generation — having spent our entire lives seeing mass shooting after mass shooting — has learned that our voices are powerful and our votes matter. We must educate ourselves and start conversations that keep our country moving forward and we will. We hereby promise to fix the broken system we’ve been forced into and create a better world for the generations to come. Don’t worry, we’ve got this.”
– Cameron Kaskey at March for Our Lives, Washington 2018