This weekend, K-12 students, parents, teachers, and celebrities will gather in Washington, D.C. and other cities for the national March for Our Lives, calling for action on school gun violence.
More than 500,000 people are expected to march in the nation’s capital. Sister marches are planned in dozens of other cities, according to USA Today.
Saturday’s march was the brainchild of student survivors of February’s tragic mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Several student leaders have been on a media tour of sorts, meeting with other victims of school violence, holding online town halls, and sitting for interviews with prominent television news programs, such as 60 minutes.
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Tomorrow at 6pm EST: @HarvardIOP‘s @JFKJrForum will host @Ryan_Deitsch @MattxRed @Emma4Change @davidhogg111 @cameron_kasky & @al3xw1nd for “#NEVERAGAIN: How Parkland Students are Changing the Conversation on Guns”
— Institute of Politics (@HarvardIOP) March 19, 2018
— March For Our Lives (@AMarch4OurLives) March 19, 2018
Students are calling for change after the Parkland shooting. A group of survivors of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School who refer to themselves as the ‘mass-shooting generation’ have made it their mission to bring about gun reform. https://t.co/ypJr8YlMkVpic.twitter.com/l1VxnPIodt
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) March 19, 2018
Student organizers won’t be alone Saturday. The march has garnered the support of several A-list celebrities. Pop stars Jennifer Hudson, Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, and Common are slated to perform. More big names, such as Justin Bieber, Jimmy Fallon, and Justin Timberlake have pledged support for the students and their cause. Timberlake recently posted a video with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, welcoming protesters to the nation’s capital.
I’m so inspired by the #MarchForOurLives students out there owning their voices. We need to demand action. Get out there and join the march this Saturday — more info here: https://t.co/PviopFKjAopic.twitter.com/7sQxjLUyQX
— Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) March 19, 2018
Ride-sharing company Lyft will be providing free rides for march participants in cities across the country and D.C.-area chef and restaurateur Jose Andres recently announced a partnership of DC-area restaurants who will provide free food to students attending the march.
As students descend on D.C. and other march centers, they also have the support of millions of private citizens.
But will their protests move the needle on gun control and school violence?
If recent weeks are any indication, the tragedy in Parkland, and the voices of it survivors, have proven a powerful motivator.
Three weeks after the Stoneman Douglas shooting, Florida enacted significant changes to its gun laws. Many political and education experts acknowledge the work of Stoneman Douglas students in keeping the pressure on state legislators through political rallies and social media.
Last week’s national student walkouts showed the vast organizing power of the nation’s K-12 students.
But, this weekend’s march is perhaps their biggest platform to date. Will their efforts do enough to spark tangible change in Washington?
Time will tell.
Back home, school districts leaders are already talking about ways to use this weekend’s events to propel ongoing discussions about school safety, gun control, and support for student mental health.
If you’re heading to Washington, D.C. this weekend, or to any of the other cities hosting student rallies, stay safe–and please share your photos and experiences with us on social media.
What steps is your school or district taking to foster productive conversations around student safety, gun control, and student mental health? Share your stories in the comments.