On Saturday March 24, 2018, marches and rallies in support of reforming America’s gun laws were held all over the country. Along with other Lesley students, I attended the march in Boston, where I saw yellow bus after yellow bus lining the roads from the State House to the Boston Common, as thousands of young people and adults participated in saying no to gun violence. In striking contrast to the Women’s March, the March for Science, and many other demonstrations over the past year, the March For Our Lives was very different: it was led by young people, and it had the zeal of youthful activists. In the wake of mass shootings in Parkland, Las Vegas, Orlando, San Francisco, and countless more, these students were taking a stand, as they chanted, “enough is enough.”
Last Saturday’s march took place a little over a month after the deaths of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School; it had the feel of a youth gathering. With numbers that seemed to rival those of the Women’s March last year, teens and adults turned out in droves to do the electric slide and protest the feeble gun laws that plague much of the country. Boston’s march began in Roxbury with teens and some adults marching two miles to Boston Common, where they were met by the growing crowd. Streaming in among cheers and dance music, teens from around the state demonstrated solidarity with their slain peers.
Their signs expressed their outrage at organizations such as the NRA (National Rifle Association), as the protesters swarmed near the stage to hear testimonials from many young speakers, especially Leonor Munoz, a survivor of the Parkland shooting.
She said, “I remember the absolute terror of being outside, hearing ‘Code red, RUN!’ I remember needing to tell my family I was alive, and barely being able to send the text because I was in REAL DANGER and they couldn’t stop it or help me.” Munoz spoke forcefully from the stage, emotion cracking her voice as she recalled the events from the Valentine’s Day massacre.
Munoz’s sister Beca, a student attending Northeastern University, and an alum of Parkland High School, joined her onstage to recount her own terror in hearing that her little sister, hundreds of miles away in Florida, was caught in a school shooting and there was nothing she could do other than to send a text, “I love you.”
The Parkland shooting is unique– not in the fact that it happened or that children were murdered, but because the whole country is finally listening. With a president who wants to arm teachers, a position vehemently opposed by the few adult speakers, and a government seemingly in the pocket of the NRA, students are standing to say “we will fight for everyone.” With the majority of speakers being teens and students themselves, they dared to address topics previously brushed under the rug.
They bellowed from the stage that it is not just the Parkland students or Sandy Hook students dying, but also young black kids being shot every single day less than a mile away in Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, and Mattapan. It was pointed out that people pay attention when it’s affluent whites being shot; but what about the people of color? They are dying every day for no other crime than not being white. Student organizers made sure The March For Our Lives was not only for those in specific shootings, but for every victim of gun violence, whether it was a school shooting, police shooting, or suicide.
With youthful energy and an underlying current of deep, raw, pain, the participants in The March For Our Lives demanded action from the government and the public. Scattered throughout the crowd, voter registration stands, operated by students, gave marchers the chance to take action in the fight for gun control. The change, activists told the crowd, would only come from the people and to save the lives of our youth vote for the legislators bold enough to take action and purge the United States of assault weapons.
I went to the march because I feel it’s important for people, especially the young, to have a voice, and to stand up for what they believe. Also, on a personal level, I adamantly oppose guns, and I never want to hear about another child murdered for no reason. As one of the most important protests going on at the moment, I felt it was important to show support and to then report on it for the Lesley Public Post. I went with my brother, who is also a Lesley student, and other Lesley students were also there. I think students are more motivated than they were previously, because they have seen the numbers, and the power of those demanding stricter gun laws. The young have risen to shout they will no longer stand by while their friends are dying; they can no longer stand by while the legislators bicker with no action, and they can no longer go to school in fear of real danger. As some in the crowd chanted, “Enough is enough.”