By Olivia Winters
WASHINGTON D.C.– Over the weekend, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of the nation’s capital to attend the March For Our Lives rally. The highly publicized event was organized in just a little over a month by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the wake of the shooting that rocked the small town of Parkland, Florida back in February. The Valentine’s Day attack that killed 14 students and 3 teachers was carried out by 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former MSD student, who had previously been expelled for disciplinary trouble, according to NBC News. According to the march’s official website, the young activists hoped that, by exercising their First Amendment rights, they could influence Congress to create “…a comprehensive and effective bill…to address these gun issues.”
As over 800,000 people marched on Washington alone, there were over 800 sister marches in cities across the globe, including New York, Rome, London and Berlin, according to The New Yorker. While the impressive numbers of those in attendance exceeded 1,000,000 participants worldwide, the real focus was held on the inclusive programming of the event. The March for Our Lives rally was praised for the diverse range of speakers, including Edna Chavez of Los Angeles, 11-year-old Naomi Wadler of Chicago, Samantha Fuentes and David Hogg of Parkland and the face of the March for Our Lives movement, MSD senior Emma González. González’s classmate Jaclyn Corin spoke on behalf of the co-founders of the #NeverAgain movement during her speech, stating, “We recognize that Parkland received more attention because of its affluence. But we share this stage today and forever with those communities who have always stared down the barrel of a gun,” according to CNN.
Saturday’s march saw protesters from all over the world assemble peacefully down Pennsylvania Avenue. The Drew Acorn talked to a group of high school students from Robinson High School in Fairfax, Virginia, who organized an independent trip to Washington in order to attend the march. Inspired by the high school students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the Virginians, who share the same hometown as the headquarters of the National Rifle Association (NRA), emphasized to The Acorn exactly what they hoped the rally would bring to Congress’ attention. “Y’know, support [the] Brady bill, and just be more specific about what we want for background checks…” said high school student Alison Quaid. “If anyone is going to make a change, it’s us,” added Robinson High School junior David Engle.
“Being able to attend March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C. was an incredible experience,” said Drew student Bella Louk (‘20). “Not only was it great to be able to speak out on an issue that affects literally every aspect of society, but it gave me new hope to see that there were so many other people out there who care, and that if we band together and keep fighting, we have a real chance of making change for the better in this country.”
Some Drew students also attended sister marches in New York City and Morristown. The Office of Student Engagement offered free train tickets for students to attend the march in Morristown and held a sign-making workshop beforehand.
Photo Courtesy of Olivia Winters