Adults have failed us.
They have refused to take action to stop the killing of thousands. Their cowardice and failure to find solutions to America’s gun violence epidemic have placed us all in danger. Now we, America’s youth, must fight to find a solution to save our lives.
Adults may say we are just children, acting out of fear and lack of information. They may say we don’t have any real power. But what they don’t understand is that this is our country, and while only some of us are already participating in elections, soon we will all be registered to vote. We cannot live with the fear that the schools we attend, the bars where we hang out and the movie theaters where we escape will become crime scenes.
That is why I chose to participate in the March for Our Lives in Columbus on Saturday. The only way we’ll find a solution to gun violence is if the youth of this country comes together and refuses to accept a future of fear and violence.
Hundreds of people gathered downtown to show support for the students of Parkland and demand tougher gun laws.
I arrived on the cold streets of Columbus with my mom, and we carried our sign listing the names of some of the major mass shootings, such as Aurora, Newtown, Pulse Nightclub and Las Vegas. The back of our poster said, “Not One More!” People around us were unified in the message that we need to pass common sense gun laws to protect our lives and the lives of the next generation.
In the wake of the shooting at their high school, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas decided to stand up and fight for public safety and common sense gun laws. They organized school walkouts and a march on Washington because, as student and activist David Hogg told Good Morning America, “We are going to start a revolution.”
In the weeks following the shooting in Parkland, Florida, students, teachers and administrators across the country have organized school walkouts. The Women’s March Youth EMPOWER group even planned a national school walkout on March 14, which lasted for 17 minutes in honor of each of the Parkland victims. Another walkout is currently being planned on Twitter through the hashtag #NationalSchoolWalkout. This walkout is calling for high school students to leave school on Friday, April 20 — the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting.
Everyone should support these walkouts, including college students. In fact, many universities, including Miami, are supporting students who want to peacefully protest gun violence by walking out. On Feb. 24, Miami tweeted a quote from Michael S. Kabbaz, senior vice president for enrollment management and student success: “If you incur school discipline for walking out, you can report it to us and know we have your back.”
While the walkouts are sending an important message, the largest effort that these activists planned was the March for Our Lives. It took place on March 24 in Washington, DC, to call for school safety and gun control.
This march gained national attention after celebrities such as Amal and George Clooney announced they would be attending. Oprah Winfrey matched the Clooneys’ donation and tweeted, “These inspiring young people remind me of the Freedom Riders of the 60s who also said we’ve had ENOUGH and our voices will be heard.”
I hoped that this movement would gain the same kind of national attention that the Women’s March did in January 2017. This hope became a reality, as more than 800 “sibling marches” took place across the world, from Los Angeles to Paris to Boston.
While March for Our Lives was an inspiring symbol for the movement to end gun violence, the movement must continue through action and legislation from our leaders. Students and parents need to show their support for this movement in any way they can. This includes writing or calling elected officials, donating to the movement, posting messages of support on social media and, most importantly, voting.