March for Our Lives: The Legacy That Came Before It and the Legacy It Will Leave

March For Our Lives took place officially in Washington D.C on March 24, 2018, a little over a month after the fateful school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland Florida on February 14, 2018. Hundreds of people showed up at the capital as well as in cities all over the world to show their support and demand gun reform. In addition to its worldwide support, the march garnered lots of celebrity attention from figures like Oprah Winfrey, Lin Manuel-Miranda, Steven Spielberg and Harry Styles.

As a country where unfortunately, mass shootings occur at a highly disproportionate rate, shootings often unfortunately fall to the wayside of news cycles and the American mindset much too soon. However, the Parkland students were not about to let that happen.

The March featured speeches from several of the students affected by the shooting, and perhaps the most poignant of them came from Parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez. During her time on stage she honored the lives of her fallen classmates and advocated for gun reform, all in the time it took Nikolas Cruz to take the lives of 17 of her classmates. Gonzalez ended her speech with a powerful call to action: ““Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job.”

However, the Parkland students are not the first to call for gun reform. Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in 2013. Eric Garner and Mike Brown were shot in killed in 2014. George Zimmerman was not charged for killing Martin.They created Black Lives Matter and made it into more than a hashtag, and they took to the streets to demand for gun reform. But they were not met with the same amount or support or recognition that these students have received years later.  

The students behind March for our Lives could have easily centered the movement around the shooting that took their classmates from them. It may have been the cause of their tremendous efforts, but those young people did not forget that there are other forms of gun violence, like police brutality. They did something that few before them took the time to do: they gave space to those who wanted to speak about gun violence in marginalized communities, and acknowledged those who had come before them, making a movement and a march of that magnitude plausible.  

One such speaker was 11-year-old Naomi Wadler from Virginia, who was there on behalf of black girls and women whose voices and lives were lost due to police brutality. “For far too long, these names, these black girls and women, have been just numbers,” Wadler said. “I am here to say never again for those girls too. I am here to say that everyone should value those girls too.”

 

Wadler wasn’t the only girl of color to grace the stage in D.C. Yolanda Renee King, the granddaughter of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was also there to share a familiar message as well as an inspiring one of her own. “My grandfather had a dream that his four little children will not be judged by the color of the skin, but the content of their character. I have a dream that enough is enough. And that this should be a gun-free world, period.”

Although it has been weeks since the The March For Our Lives, it doesn’t appear like the Parkland students are going to let anyone forget what happened to them on February 14th or their response to it on March 24th.