March For Our Lives touched on more than just school shooting violence

Speakers also discuss how gun violence affects the African American community

Emma Gonzalez speaking at March For Our Lives
Credit: 
Screenshot from YouTube

This Saturday marked a new era for gun control.

Students from the recent Parkland shooting hosted a march in Washington, D.C. on Mar. 24 to show politicians they’re serious about fighting for changes to gun legislation.

The march brought out an estimated 200,000 people, included celebrities Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Kim Kardashian and North and Kanye West. 

In the days counting down to the march, I thought I knew exactly what to expect — powerful performances, impassioned speeches by the brave students from Stoneman Douglas High School and absolutely no recognition from GOP politicians.

And I was right about most things. Parkland shooting survivors and vocal advocates of gun control David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez gave goosebump-worthy speeches, Demi Lovato killed it at her performance of “Skyscraper” and President Donald Trump took the day to golf at his Mar-A-Lago estate. 

What really took me by surprise was the range of speakers and the diversity of issues their speeches worked to address.

The march was obviously initially inspired by the desire for gun reform after the Parkland shooting. Though this was a heavy focus of the day, the speakers invited to the march also focused on the need for change in the shooting of African American people.

This comes just days after an African American man was shot to death in his backyard because police mistook his iPhone for a gun.

The notable speakers included Naomi Wadler, an 11 year old who organized a walkout at her school following the Parkland shooting.As well as touching on the experience of coordinating this protest, Wadler’s speech focused on how African American women are disproportionately represented when it comes to gun violence. 

In her speech, Wadler proclaimed, “I am here to acknowledge and represent African American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper, whose stories don’t lead on the evening news. I represent the African American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential.”

Given this march was arranged directly in response to the epidemic of school shootings in the United States, it was even more incredible to see the organizers of the event make sure to include other pressing concerns of gun violence.

Another significant speaker on the day was Martin Luther King Jr.’s granddaughter, nine year old Yolanda Renee King, who chanted “spread the word, have you heard? All across the nation. We are going to be a great generation.”

Other parts of her speech included mentioning King Jr., and saying “my grandfather had a dream that his four little children will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but the content of their character. I have a dream that enough is enough. And that this should be a gun-free world, period.”

I think it’s safe to say the world was expecting the march to be a very powerful day. What made it even more impactful was the organizers of the event commitment to including speakers who voiced the different issues gun violence can have on different groups of people. 

People like David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez and Noami Walder were already being lauded as future politicians and change-makers prior to the march. The fact that they were so thoughtful when planning Saturday’s event and ensured to address diversity only speaks more to that.

 

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