Over 500,000 people came together in Washington DC on March 24th, gathering along Pennsylvania Avenue and extending into several other streets for the March for Our Lives call to action. Other states also had attendance in the thousands and around the world, in places like London and Paris, hundreds of thousands more marched in unison.
This event sought to encourage political leaders in the United States to enact comprehensive gun reform after yet another school shooting in Parkland, Florida took place on February 14th. The students from Parkland rose up after that devastation and, with the assistance of others, were able to make this event possible so that people could voice their concern and call political leaders to action for change.
Those in attendance ranged from infants to the elderly coming from different races, genders, backgrounds, and more. While walking to Pennsylvania Ave. people spoke of the comradery that was felt, similar to that of what occurred at the Women’s March. This event called to bring all people together in order to protect the lives of children and adults alike, whether they are at school, a concert, a movie, or a place of worship.
A few minutes past noon, once everyone congregated as close to Pennsylvania Avenue as they were able to get, the speeches, performances, and videos began. Several screens were set up throughout the streets for those in attendance to watch and listen.
Performers included Demi Lovato singing a rendition of “Skyscraper”, Miley Cyrus singing “The Climb”, Jennifer Hudson singing a cover of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They are A-Changin’”, and Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt singing “Found/Tonight.” The crowd would come together and sing along to these songs, creating a stronger sense of unity.
Speakers included several students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, several students from Newton High School, Yolanda Renee King– the granddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr., Edna Chavez a student from south Los Angeles, and many more. All had a similar message, explaining how gun violence has affected their lives and why we must act and use our voices to stand up for gun control.
There were many powerful speeches. Edna Chavez explained how her brother was shot when he was in high school and how, in south Los Angeles, gunshots ringing through the air are a normal thing, something she was familiar with before she even “learned how to read.” Emma González stood in silence for 6 minutes and 20 seconds, the time it took for the Parkland shooter to kill 17 people and injure 15 others. 11 year-old Naomi Wadler brought attention to the fact that gun violence disproportionately affects people of color, and that black women are too often forgotten as victims of gun violence, instead being reduced to statistics.
Chants were not lacking at this march. During spaces between speeches and performances the crowd would chant “Enough is enough!”, “Never again!”, and “Vote them out!”, in reference to legislators who refuse to take action before the midterm elections in November. Yolanda King lead the chant “Spread the word. Have you heard? All across the nation. We… are going to be. A great generation.” The crowd respond enthusiastically, while each reverberation of the chant grew louder.
Though the event may have come to a conclusion, so much more can still be done. If you are 18, or will be before the midterm elections, you can register to vote. Let your voices be heard at town halls, in the voting booth, and beyond. Demand change. United we stand.