By: Elizabeth Klein
Last Tuesday, I attended the Students’ March on Raleigh to protest the state of gun laws in North Carolina and the rest of the country. Students organized the event after the shooting in Parkland, Florida last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Raleigh is just one city that partook in the march; other states have done the same to show solidarity with Parkland and demand gun control.
I missed the first part of the event (might’ve gotten a bit lost), but it began at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church with a moment of remembrance for the 17 people that died at the shooting. It was followed by impassioned speeches from students and church officials. 17 students from different schools lit 17 candles and released 17 doves before beginning the march to the Capitol building. As we went along, everyone chanted protests demanding gun safety laws.
“Enough is enough.”
“When students are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back.”
“No more guns.”
People carried banners that said things like “One child is worth more than all the guns on Earth,” “Students taking back our schools,” and “#NeverAgain.” As we walked by, many people driving by honked and cheered us on. When we reached the Capitol, we took 17 seconds of silence to honor the victims. Each of the candles were placed on the ground in front of the building as the names of the victims were called out. Reverend Nancy Petty said a few words to thank the marchers, the crowd dispersed, and the march was over.
When writing this article, I went onto Facebook to watch some of the live streams from the events. The comment section was infuriating. One person wished that “the liberal teachers would stop brainwashing the youth and let them actually think for themselves.” Another remarked that it was “sad that some of these people could one day help run our country.” After the candle ceremony to honor the victims, another said, “What a waste of time.”
I went to the Students’ March because I want change. I’m sick of reading about school shootings in the newspaper. I’m sick of hearing about students dying. And I’m sick of people saying that nothing can be done about it. Of course something can be done, and we’re the ones that need to do it. Protests like this should stand as a lesson for all young people and students: we’re the ones in charge of our future. If we want gun control, we need to demand it. Going to marches and petitioning legislators are all important ways to get involved with an issue that’s monumental for the safety of students.
Although marching to the Capitol does not immediately guarantee that legislature will change to implement gun safety laws, it’s an opportunity to let our voices be heard, and ours are the ones that count. This is happening to us, to students, to our schools. We can’t sit idly by while it does.