I have never heard eight hundred thousand people stand silently before.
During the March For Our Lives rally, on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. 800,000 people, unbound by any differences between them, stood in silence after Emma Gonzalez’s, a Parkland student, speech just moments before. While initially people had begun to chant to fill the silence, it was abandoned in favor of silently holding up peace signs.
At the end of the speech, an alarm went off from Gonzalez’s phone. “Since the time that I came out here, it has been six minutes and 20 seconds,” she finished. “The shooter has ceased shooting and will soon abandon his rifile, blend in with the students as they escape, and walk free for an hour before arrest. Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job.”
This was one of the many impactful speeches heard at the march. Students from across the country, including 36 members of Manhattanville college, made the journey to attend the march in Washington. Many carried signs saying, “enough is enough” or “how many more kids will die?”
The March in D.C. was not the only one; over 800 sister marches were found across the country and the world, in locations such as Los Angeles and Manhattan. Students from Parkland and from cities such as Chicago and Los Angeles, all of whom were victims of gun violence, urged lawmakers and senators to either change gun control laws or get voted out. “Either represent the people or get out. Stand for us or beware.” Said Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Cameron Kasky.
Not only did the march focus on gun violence in regards to school shootings, but it also brought in voices of those who face gun violence on an almost daily basis, from the point of view of black students from Chicago and D.C. One speech from Mya Middleton, a 16-year-old student from Chicago, recounted her own experience with gun violence. “He pulls out this silver pistol and points it in my face and said these words that to this day haunt me and give me nightmares. He said, ‘If you say anything, I will find you.’ And yet I’m still saying something today.” She said. Naomi Wadler, an 11-year-old from Virginia, said that she spoke for African-American girls lost to gun violence whose stories had been ignored b the media. Yolanda Renee King, 9, the granddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr., spoke as well with her own dream at the rally.
“I have a dream that enough is enough,” she said, “and that this should be a gun-free world. Period.” She then led the crowd in a cheer: “We are going to be a great generation.” King’s words carried one of the most important messages of the rally; that it was on the students to make an impact. As many of the signs said, “this is not a moment, it’s a movement.”
Of course, speeches weren’t the only part of the rally. Many performances from celebrities such as Lin Manuel Miranda, Ben Platt, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, and Common appeared onstage along with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Dra- ma club, who performed their own original song “Shine.” One student sang “Happy Birthday” and encouraged attendants to participate; Mar. 24 was the 18th birthday of Park- land shooting victim Nick Dworet.
“All of the speakers were incredibly powerful, and I hope that all of the march attendees take the experience with them, share with their family and friends, and take action in the polls, through communication with their representatives, with activist groups, and beyond,” said Heather Krannich, the Student Body President and leader of Manhattanville’s group, after the march to discuss her experience at the march and the impact she believes it will have. “I’m hoping that the impact the march will have will be to rally citizens to vote, stay active, and be aware about the various political factors of gun violence. There are so many different solutions to consider, and people should be empowered to talk about it, consider their options, and reach out to their representatives in favor of their views.”
She also said that one of the many reasons behind Manhattanville’s organization to march came from the school’s history of social activism, citing the school’s history of attending marches such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington.