On March 24, 2018 a student led march, advocating gun reform, took place in Washington D.C. as well as other cities throughout the country and around the world. With over 200 thousand people in attendance at the Washington D.C. march alone, the cry for change was bound to be heard around the world.
Just a month prior, the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida had just taken place, killing 17 people and injuring 17 more. Many believed the shooting to be the tipping point on the long road to change.
Marches similar to the March for Our Lives march have taken place in the past, demanding for similar change, however the March for Our Lives has gained more attention. When asked why the March for Our Lives event brought out more people, Junior Callie Bryner said, “This march has been in the news more. This march has been in the news and I feel like people feel the issue on a more personal level.” What personal level was Bryner was talking about? Bryner said, “It’s because of the scope, and the fact that it’s mostly high school kids organizing it. A lot more people have kids in high school or they are in high school, or they went to high school, they know how it feels to be there.” It’s because of publicity that the March for Our Lives march gained more attention than previous reform events.
The students of Stoneman Douglas High School have used the publicity received from their recent tragedy as a platform to advocate change. The students shared their personal stories with news media sources and broke the barrier between victim and hero. They used the devastating shooting as fuel, forcing politicians to hear their voices and remember the names of those lost. Many believe the students of Stoneman Douglas High School were the last straw, the force behind “enough is enough.”
On why Bryner thought the students were the ones to lead this march, she said, “I feel like other people who have brought it up haven’t been or might not have been survivors like these kids, who know because they were there.” The students speak about the need for change because they experienced the worst that could happen without it. Adults may be listening and following, but students are leading the nation toward change.
The issue of gun control gained the attention of many celebrities. Artists such as Lin Manuel Miranda, Ben Platt, Miley Cyrus, and Jennifer Hudson performed at the D.C. March while other artists such as Rita Ora and Charlie Puth performed on the main stage of the Los Angeles March. Some viewed celebrities awareness on the issue to be a great benefit. History teacher Christopher Taylor said, “I think it’s great. If a celebrity feels strongly about a political movement and they feel they can help by sponsoring it or using their talents, I think that is great.” Others, like Northern Utah Student Coalition Chair Jaeden Priest, have said, “It’s great support but it’s not a necessity” or as junior Rhett Parry said, “There are many people who revere celebrities just because they are celebrities. They are known for acting and singing, they aren’t politically minded.” Whether it was their place or not, celebrity attention mainstreamed the event and spread awareness beyond the United States.
The March for Our Lives may be over, however the movement is not. The Stoneman Douglas students and many others are continuing their fight for gun reform. For more information about future events and how you can join the fight, visit their website here. We hope to see change take place for the safety of future generations. Continue the conversation by talking to those around you about the march and the issues it brings to light. School should be a place where students feel safe. It is up to us to make the changes needed for schools across the nation and around the world to be places of learning and hope, rather than loss and devastation.