April 24, 2018

Zanifa Darville, To The Contrary intern, reflects on the March For Our Lives protest held last month. 

Our voices need to echo into the future if our friends, our siblings, and our bodies are to be safe. Then it will be enough.” – Students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

 

 

The persistent chants of “protect our children” and “never again” rang in the ears of an estimated 800,000 Americans, who stood at the Capitol in pursuit of change, at the March for Our Lives protest on Saturday March 24th. This attempt, organized by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, aimed to remove fear out of the classroom and bring a sense of safety to kids across America. These individuals desired retribution for the seventeen people that died in the shooting. This sole idea of gun control brought thousands of children and adults together to take a stand in demonstrations held around the world in hundreds of cities.

I did not know what to expect attending a protest of this magnitude. It was my first march in the United States and I was more than excited to see what the day would bring. As I emerged from the underground metro, I encountered a swarm of Americans from various walks of life. All these individuals were patiently awaiting the words of the victims who had suffered at the hands of gun violence.

In the midst of the impending the march, children from all over the country spoke on the nation's love affair with guns, especially the students who were at the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The speakersconnected emotionally with the crowd reliving their experiences and personal encounters with gun violence. Never had I seen so much bravery and courage in one place. The day was filled with disappointment, resentment and sorrow, but also hope.

My observation was that citizens across the country supported the anti-gun cause because it hit so close to home. Almost everyone at some point in their lives has been to high school and experienced it as a safe learning zone and not a harmful war zone. Most importantly, this subject regards our most prized possession: the safety of our future, our children.

Throughout history, The National Mall has acted as a public stage for many political movements to bring about both social and economic change. It is no surprise these students utilized this venue to make their own voices known; however, this march is not the first time that students have utilized this location for political activism. In the 1960s, students of the University of Washington in D.C. also organized a march of their own. Their objective was to make a statement by conducting an anti-war demonstration. This protest was sparked in reaction to the expansion of the Vietnam War in Cambodia and by the deaths of four student protesters at Kent State University in Ohio. 

Similar to today, the movement spread across the country and to several campuses that began initiatives to confront the issue. These students expounded on a concern that was bigger than themselves and America stood with them in numerous arranged rallies across the country.

Compared with many other protests in D.C. like Martin Luther King’s Civil Rights March on Washington, the March for Our Lives reportedly can count a record number of attendees. These students sought a higher degree of social awareness of a domestic tragedy and challenge. They remain dedicated to seeking solutions and combating the issue nationwide. Citizens march when they have something to believe in and these students gave everyone a glimmer of hope, including me.