Thirty-nine days after the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, hundreds of thousands of people across the country and the world participated in the March For Our Lives to call for gun control reform. In the wake of the shooting, students organized and led the main event in front of the Capitol building on the mall in Washington, D.C. where an estimated 800,000 people gathered. Saturday’s marches were the latest, and perhaps strongest in the continued calls for the nation’s lawmakers to act. The unified message was, “Enough is enough.”
In the United States alone there were about two dozen major marches in large cities including New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh. Cities in New Zealand, Japan, France, and the UK also joined in.
The main Washington march was categorized by a series of speeches by Parkland survivors and other speakers. Many of the young speakers had personal experiences as survivors of shootings or losing loved ones to gun violence.
Naomi Wadler, a fifth-grader from Alexandria, Virginia who organized her school’s walkout to protest gun violence, spoke on behalf of “the African-American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper, whose stories don’t lead on the evening news,” going on to say, “I represent the African-American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential.”
Marjory Stoneman Douglas senior Emma Gonzalez, who along with her classmates have become the face of the movement, stood silent and crying, during her speech after listing the names of the 17 people killed in Parkland. "Fight for your lives before it's someone else's job," she pleaded.
The rally in Washington also memorialized the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, with his 9-year-old granddaughter in attendance. "My grandfather had a dream that his four children would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character," she said. "I have a dream that enough is enough and that this should be a gun-free world. Period."
What You Can Do
One constant at the marches on Saturday was a reminder to the hundreds of thousands of people in attendance that they can personally affect the issue of gun violence by registering to vote and going to the polls in November. HeadCount, a nonpartisan voter registration organization, estimated that it sent 1,000 volunteers to register potential voters in Washington alone, with a spokesperson teling NBC News that volunteer returned with approximately 20 voter forms each.
“Let’s take this to our local legislators and let’s take this to midterm elections," said David Hogg, one of the survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who helped organize the march. "Because without the persistent heat, without the persistence of voters and Americans everywhere getting out to every election, democracy will not flourish.”
If you want to make sure you have a say in the policies that will affect you and generations to come then voting is imperative. VICE Impact has partnered with Democracy Works on their TurboVote initiative, which makes registering to vote incredibly easy.
Get registered today to have an impact.
If you are already registered to vote. Contact your representative to tell them where you stand on gun control.
And then some
While the focus may have been on the kids leading the movement, some major celebrities shed light on the problems of gun violence in their lives too.
Former Beatle Paul McCartney marched in New York while sporting a shirt that read, “We Can End Gun Violence.”
In an interview with CNN, McCartney said, “One of my best friends was killed in gun violence right around here, so it’s important to me,” referring to his former bandmate John Lennon who was gunned down in New York City outside his apartment in December 1980.