“Spread the word. Have you heard? All across the nation. We are going to be a great generation,” calls out 9 year-old Yolanda Renee King, granddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr, on the stage of March For Our Lives to the hundreds of people, of all ages and background, gathered at Pennsylvania Avenue on a chilly Saturday in Washington DC.
On this Saturday, March 24th, the young women and men of the United States came together, across the country, to demand that they be heard, having continuously endured onslaught after onslaught of gun violence, from mass shootings to the daily shooting incidents across cities. And among these leaders demanding change were powerful young women
17 year-old Edna Chavez is one of them. “I am a youth leader. I am a survivor,” she declares. Chavez takes the stage to remind everyone about the gun violence that she and others in her community in South Los Angeles contend with on a daily basis. “This is normal — normal to the point that I’ve learned to duck from bullets before I learned how to read,” shares Chavez.
Unlike previous rallies and protests, March For Our Lives was planned and led by the youth and at its core was inclusivity. “All lives are precious, and our country must make the safety of its citizens a number one priority. March For Our Lives is created by, inspired by, and led by students of all ethnicities, religions, and sexualities across the country. We will no longer sit and wait for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass shootings, “as noted on the site of March For Our Lives. “We demand morally-just leaders to rise up from both parties in order to ensure public safety.”
“I am here to acknowledge and represent the 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.”
These are the words of 11 year-old Naomi Wadler who captured the attention of all, near and far. Speaking for black women and girls in America, Wadler spoke loud and clear that they are not forgotten, and that they must be thought of just as the mass shooting victims are thought of when speaking off gun control and gun safety.
“For far too long, these names, these black girls and women, have been just numbers,” states Wadler. “I’m here to say ‘Never again’ for those girls, too.”
At the helm of the planning and organizing that took place were the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school students, who had survived a mass shooting in February. Gun control and gun safety organizations understood that the march and the movement is student led and their role was to be in the background providing assistance and support when needed.
One of these leaders at the forefront is Emma Gonzalez, she survived the Parkland Shooting, and now stood on the stage and spoke out the names of those who are loved and missed and held a silence that held the attention of the crowd, to reflect and feel the absence of those who are no longer with us.
For change to occur, sometimes it takes the youth to put a mirror to the face of the country. They the youth should not have to march for their lives. But the girls and young women along with their male counterparts are not afraid to stand up for themselves, for their friends, for their families and the country.
 March For Our Lives. “Mission Statement.” https://marchforourlives.com/mission-statement/