Students march for their lives amid gun control debate

Grady students travel to Washington D.C. for nation-wide protest


Dana Richie

VIEWS FROM CAPITAL HILL: Crowds of people, including students, from across the country marched to the capital, demanding legislation.

It started out like a typical morning — clear blue skies and a light breeze. But for students across the U.S., Mar. 24 was monumental.  Record breaking crowds, the largest single day protest in D.C’s history, assembled in the nation’s capital to show support for victims of gun violence and to demand change. With a gathering 800,000 strong, getting the public’s attention wasn’t an issue: they needed to make a statement.

“The country’s got to listen so [the march] will bring about change,” Maggie, one of the protesters who wanted to be referred to by their first name for anonymity, said.

The “March for our Lives” was unique in that it was student led. It was organized by students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the location of a tragic mass shooting in February. All of the speakers were students.

The march featured a variety of speakers from different backgrounds, brought together by one thing: gun violence. Whether they were students from Parkland, Chicago, Los Angeles, or even from D.C., they all had experienced the trauma of losing someone on the wrong side of a bullet. They shared that pain with the crowd, which inspired many protesters.

“There is sort of an intransigence in this issue and having the kids participate and lead; it really highlights how concerning this is,” Laura, a college student from Washington D.C., said.

Students traveled from near and far to “March for Our Lives,” the motto of the march. Many Grady students were in attendance, bearing a ten hour drive from Atlanta to D.C. to show their dedication to the cause.

“I want to make a statement, so that our congressman and our legislators can see that this isn’t something that is just a joke to us,” Erin Taylor, a Grady freshman said.

The march was a platform for not just student speakers, but also for famous singers and celebrities to stand united with the movement. Performers included Andra Day, Ben Platt, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato. Unlike Music Midtown or Coachella, these celebrities used their voices not just to make music, but to make a statement. Having these celebrities contributed to the magnitude of this event.

“The sheer fact that [the march] exists on this scale is unprecedented,” Laura said.

Members of the crowd didn’t have access to the same attention that the celebrities and speakers did, so they came up with creative ideas to make sure their voices were heard.

Individual marchers told their own stories through posters, varying from those that found humour in the frustration, to others that were very striking and deep, but all were fighting for change.

Thomas, a teenage protester, carried a sign with a picture of television fashion guru Tim Gunn and read “The only Gunn we need on campus.”

The march displayed the dedication of youth to improving gun control and school safety, and that young people are in it for the long haul. The speakers constantly reiterated the importance of voting in the upcoming elections. Increased voter participation will be one way to measure the march’s lasting impact.

“If young people continue to push for change, then it will happen,” Rita, a school teacher from Boston, said.