“Enough is Enough.”
“We Want Change.”
Those are just three of the chants that rang throughout D.C. and the rest of the country yesterday. March 24, 2018 marked the March For Our Lives, a march to protest against gun violence and to advocate for the right to live. This comes 53 years and one day from the day Martin Luther King Jr. and other protestors reached Montgomery, Alabama in protest for the right to vote. 53 years later, his granddaughter stood on a stage in front of thousands and protested for the right of children like her to live. Her “I have a dream” speech was a true testament to the power that the King’s have in their ability to bring people together for a common cause.
She was not the only one who delivered a speech that left the crowd, and everyone watching, breathless and in awe. Naomi Wadler, from Alexandria, Virginia delivered a speech that put the lives of young African American girls in the forefront of everyone’s minds; if not for three minutes, then for the rest of their lives. In the wake of a police shooting that left a young man dead in his own backyard; it is time that the voices of minorities, who are proportionally killed more often and with more force, are heard loud and clear.
Trevon Bosley, a young man from Chicago, told of the struggles of a city that’s gun violence took the life of his brother in 2006. He told of the 5,850 people who have been shot and killed since 2006 and the 16,000+ who have been shot since 2012 in the city of Chicago. To put that in terms that may make sense to us Hokies, that many people would fill ⅓ of the 66,000 seats in Lane Stadium. He spoke for the young black boys and girls who can’t even walk to school without having to dodge bullets or make it to the store without getting shot for no reason. He spoke of the criticism that those in power have for the city of Chicago, but they have no right to criticize when they refuse to try to fix a situation that has been going on for decades.
Jennifer Hudson, whose mother, brother and nephew were killed due to gun violence, sang with a heart-wrenching passion that hit the hearts of everyone listening. I personally remember 10 years ago when one of the biggest stories on the news for weeks was the murder of her family members, and it was disturbing to see someone so famous affected by something that I didn’t know was able affect families of celebrities. Another famous face in the crowd, this time in New York, was Paul McCartney, whose band mate and friend John Lennon was killed a few blocks from where they were marching by a lone gunman in 1980.
The biggest and most powerful speech was given by Emma González from Parkland, Florida. She read out the seventeen names of the victims of the Stoneman Douglas shooting, and then she went silent. For about 5-6 minutes she stood in pure silence with tears in her eyes while the crowd watched in silence; occasionally cheering as they thought she had been so overcome with emotion that she couldn’t continue speaking. It was after this silence that she let us all know that we had been listening to her for about the same amount of time it took for the gunman at Stoneman Douglas to kill 17 students. There was not a dry eye in the crowd as she walked off the stage, leaving us all the revel in the fact that it only takes minutes to end the lives of 17 young people who had their whole lives left ahead of them.
I have personally been through a potential shooter situation in my own high school, and I can personally attest that it was one of the most unnerving days of my life. While there was some information that let us know that the person wasn’t on campus anymore, we still had to wait for SWAT to clear every room, bathroom, hallway, closet, and crevice in the school. The year after I graduated my high school had bomb threats multiple days in a row. Recently, a loaded gun was brought into a high school in my hometown. A young man that I first met when we were in elementary or middle school was shot and killed in October of 2016. I know what gun violence does to a community, and it is unnecessary and destructive.
It should not be a natural reaction to duck and run when you hear a loud pop in the distance. It should not be a natural reaction to wake up and send thoughts and prayers to people, as if it’s as simple as saying good morning. We have become desensitized to the true effect that gun violence has on not only the victims, but their families, friends, and communities. It is time for a change. This November, we will be voting in midterm elections that will determine the fate of our country and the lives of our children. This November we must take a stand and remove from our Congress people that don’t take our right to live seriously, and put in people who are willing to put the safety and lives of the people of this country before money and political party.
Enough is enough. It is time for a change, and if they didn’t hear us in 2012 after Sandy Hook, they sure as hell hear us now. We will fight for our right to live, because no child deserves to die simply because one person was able to walk into a store and purchase a gun they didn’t need and shouldn’t have. This is our time, so stand up and fight back.