Thousands rally at March for Our Lives in Washington D.C.


Photo credit: Brooke Williams

Brooke Williams and Rachel Looker

Hundreds of thousands from across the country gathered in Washington D.C. for the March for Our Lives to demand legislative action on gun control.

The rally, which took place on Pennsylvania Avenue between 4th and 12th St. NW, is said to be the largest in Washington D.C.’s history, according to a March for Our Lives press release. More than 800 marches took place in cities across the country in conjunction with the larger rally in Washington D.C.

The march took place in response to the Feb. 14 school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead.

Stoneman Douglas students planned the march to demand comprehensive legislation to address gun issues.

Photo credit: Bethany Wade

Jeff Foster, a teacher at Stoneman Douglas, said in an interview with The Wood Word that while gun control has always been a national issue, these students have been able to bring it to the front pages.

“We hope because of the way they are able to articulate their beliefs and their passions that we can make real change in America,” he said.

According to the March for Our Lives mission statement, the march is “created by, inspired by, and led by students across the country who will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar.”

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School delivered speeches to the crowd. Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, stayed on stage for six minutes and 20 seconds, the same amount of time as the school shooting.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 24: Emma Gonzalez cries onstage at March For Our Lives on March 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for March For Our Lives)

Foster described the day of the march as an “emotional roller coaster.”

“A lot of tears. A lot of hugs. A lot of pride. I saw most of [the students] before, during and after. We are not supposed to as teachers, especially in high school, to ever touch our students. But these kids are jumping into your arms now,” he said.

He added that the students need support and his job now is “to be an emotional support for our kids because everyone went through that day differently.”

Yolanda Renee King, nine-year-old granddaughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke to attendees and had the crowd repeat “we are going to be a great generation.”

“I have a dream that enough is enough,” she said. “And that this should be a gun-free world, period.”

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 24: Yolanda Renee King and Jaclyn Corin speak onstage at March For Our Lives on March 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for March For Our Lives)

Students from Chicago, 11-year-old Naomi Wadler from Virginia and 17-year-old Edna Chavez from Los Angeles, also spoke about gun violence and how it affects their communities.

Matthew Soto, Tommy Murray and Jackson Middleman, all from New Town, Connecticut, the location of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting that left 20 elementary school children and six adults dead, presented a banner to Stoneman Douglas High School. The banner read “Newtown High School stands with Stoneman Douglas.”

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 24: Jackson Middleman, Tommy Murray, Brother of Sandy Hook victim Matthew Soto speaks at March For Our Lives on March 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for March For Our Lives)

“Today we are presenting a banner to the Parkland community from the Newtown community. We know your pain. We know what you are going through, and we are inspired by your fight for change,” said Soto.

The rally featured performances by Andra Day and Common, who kicked off the rally by singing “Rise Up.” Other performers included Demi Lovato, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Platt, Vic Mensa, Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande. Jennifer Hudson ended the rally with a performance of “The Times They Are A-Changin’” with a Washington D.C. choir.

Participants in the march held signs in support of the victims of gun violence that read “Marching to the Heartbeats of our Kids,” “Thoughts, prayers, action, get to work” and “Vote for Our Lives.”

While there were many high school-aged participants and millennials at the rally, attendees of all ages showed their support for gun control to keep schools and communities safe.

Resident of Washington D.C. Alicia Goodman said she can’t imagine her three-year-old niece being afraid of going to school.

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Alicia Goodman holds her sign at the March for Our Lives in Washington D.C.

“I grew up being trained for natural disasters in school, earthquake drills and things like that. I don’t think that you should have to have an active shooter drill in your school. It should be a safe place,” Goodman said.

Goodman said she hopes the march makes Congress take action to regulate guns.

“I think that we need a comprehensive way to prevent guns and gun violence, and that Congress is one step that is essential to keeping guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them,” she said.

Maggie Fitzpatric, a high school freshman from Wyoming, Ohio, attended the march with her friends because she believes the government is not acting to stop gun violence.

“I just hope that there is gun control after all this. It’s about time,” Fitzpatric said. “There’s too many shootings happening. If there was gun control, we wouldn’t be here.”

Sandy Reid, a resident of Washington D.C., worked at the march as a volunteer. During the volunteer training, Reid said she met five students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“We’ve got some real leaders coming forward,” Reid said. “I’m just very proud of our next generation coming to be.”

Follow The Wood Word for more updates on the Washington D.C. March for Our Lives.

John Ferraro contributed to this article.

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