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Teenagers will lead the charge and demand change at anti-gun violence March for Our Lives

Students and other demonstrators across the country will protest gun violence Saturday. In Washington, survivors of last month's deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, will stage their March for Our Lives rally. John Yang follows some of the students as they prepare for the big day.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Demonstrators from across the country will march against gun violence tomorrow in cities from New York to Los Angeles, Chicago to Atlanta, and small towns in between.

    Washington, D.C., here will be where survivors of last month's deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, stage their March for Our Lives rally.

    John Yang followed some of the students as they prepared for the big day.

  • John Yang:

    Seventeen-year-old high school senior Liz Stout has visited her sister Jenny in Washington before, but this time is different.

    On Valentine's Day, Liz was in her A.P. psychology class at Parkland, Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when a teenager armed with an AR-15 assault-style rifle killed 17 of her schoolmates, teachers and administrators and wounded 14 others.

    Now she's in Washington for tomorrow's anti-gun-violence March for Our Lives.

  • Liz Stout:

    I have heard too often that we're too young to make a change.

  • John Yang:

    She's haunted by what she saw in that classroom, witnessing the death of fellow student Carmen Schentrup.

  • Liz Stout:

    You know, I came to school that day to get an education. My teacher opened up a lesson about personality. Next thing you know, we're behind a desk crowded lying on top of each other. And we run out and she's dead.

    And it's still — just even saying it still, talking about it, it doesn't wrap around my head. But I think that's why I came up to D.C., because she deserved to live.

  • John Yang:

    How are you doing?

  • Liz Stout:

    It's been rough to get a full night of sleep. I still can't finish a meal, because a part of me feels guilty running out of that room. I see a professional therapist. She's taught me methods, how to concentrate in class, what to do when I'm uncomfortable, when I get triggers, how to calm myself down, how to sleep better.

  • John Yang:

    Liz and her sister made a special stop at the memorial to Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Liz Stout:

    Even with MLK and the civil rights movement, he was known for making a big change, and it was the young people who started the movement. And it's like, today, the young people are coming out and starting a movement. They're the reason why we're out here.

    They're the voices for the kids in Chicago who don't have the same platform that we do.

  • John Yang:

    From the Capitol, all along Pennsylvania Avenue, organizers hope there will be about half-a-million people here tomorrow. In addition, there'll be similar events in more than 800 cities around the nation and around the world.

    What happened in Parkland has turned thousands of students into activists. Thousands of them gathered at the Capitol last week during the national school lockout.

  • Nate Tinbite:

    And the United States, we have archaic gun control laws for a 21st century reality.

  • John Yang:

    Nate Tinbite is a sophomore at John F. Kennedy High School in Washington's Maryland suburbs.

    This week, the 15-year-old son of Ethiopian immigrant and his classmates made posters for the rally.

  • Nate Tinbite:

    My parents came from an education system not as remotely close to ours or comparable to ours, yet they still didn't have to worry about their security and safety. So, why should we in this country have to go through that?

    You know, our lives are definitely worth more than weapons that we see out here today.

  • John Yang:

    The students leading tomorrow's rally are using the foundation laid by groups like Moms Demand Action, formed after the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting.

    Jennifer Hoppe is the deputy director.

  • Jennifer Hoppe:

    We have built up a grassroots army that really has the knowledge, the resources, and the tools, that now we are able to share all of those with students across the country.

  • John Yang:

    For many kids in the nation's capital, the fight is personal. Friends and family have been killed by gun violence.

    Seventeen-year-old Aaron King and his mother, Patricia Reardon-King, made posters at a local community center.

  • Aaron King:

    I lost a cousin — his name was Kevin — to gun violence. He was simply trying to help a friend, but ended up losing his life simply trying to protect him. I just didn't want to see it happen again, because I know that it could have been me. So I said, enough is enough.

  • Patricia Reardon-King:

    We don't want to change the Second Amendment rights for individuals. But we do want to kind of limit the number of guns that individuals can purchase, and make sure that students don't have easy access to guns, where they're emotional, and they make rash decisions.

  • John Yang:

    Stoneman Douglas students and activists David Hogg and Aalayah Eastmond stopped by.

  • David Hogg:

    This affects everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or all of the above. At the end of the day, we're all Americans and we all bleed same blood. Some people have to live through this every day, though. That's unbelievable, and it's unacceptable.

  • Aalayah Eastmond:

    It feels empowering, because Douglas is predominantly white, but there are black kids there, obviously. So I didn't want anybody to feel like, you know, only white kids are fighting for this. Black students are fighting for it as well.

  • John Yang:

    It's a fight that's crossing generational, racial and economic lines. With teenagers leading the way, they hope to achieve real change where so many before them have fallen short.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang in Washington.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Online, we will have coverage of the march throughout the weekend, including reporting by members of our Student Reporting Labs.

    That's at PBS.org/NewsHour.

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