The March For Our Lives: A Report from D.C.


A picture from the March for Our Lives

Amila Niksic, Writer

On March 24th, 2018, I attended the March for Our Lives at the Capitol in Washington, D.C.  To say the experience was incredible would be an understatement. I arrived at the March around eleven in the morning, and proceeded to start walking down Pennsylvania Avenue with the thousands of other marchers around me. After around six blocks, the traffic jam began and the hundreds of thousands of supporters present had nowhere else to go. The vast majority of the sea of people around me carried posters, both clever and simple, all delivering the same message: no more assault rifles, no more mass shootings, no more death. The common thread of support tied each person to the next, so they no longer felt like strangers but someone who supported the same cause as you. People talked amongst themselves; the man standing next to me lost a loved one in the Parkland shooting, and someone across the street from me lost a child in the Sandy Hook shooting. The program began with a speech by Cameron Kasky, a survivor from Parkland and organizer of the March.  His message rung loud throughout DC, “The people demand a law banning the sale of assault weapons, the people demand we prohibit the sale of high capacity magazines, the people demand universal background checks”. The same idea would be repeated by the other speakers including Delaney Tarr, Jackie Corin, and David Hogg. We heard moving performances by Andra Day, Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Lin Manuel Miranda, Demi Lovato, Common, and others. In between speakers and performers, short films were shown on TV screens placed every three blocks extending down Pennsylvania Avenue. The films were comparisons and support videos made by veterans, survivors, and even Malala Yousafzai, a survivor of gun violence and advocate for women’s education in Pakistan. The moments of silence in between were filled by voices chanting “Vote them out!” in regard to the Republican representatives who do not support gun laws.  

A few of my personal favorite speeches were ones by not so recognizable advocates of gun control.  Naomi Wadler, an eleven year-old student from Arlington, gave an incredibly eloquent and moving speech on the importance of the representation of African-American women who are victims of gun violence.  Yolanda Renee King, the nine year-old granddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr., also spoke. Like her grandfather, she has a dream- that “enough is enough…this should be a gun-free world, period.”  A student from Parkland, Ryan Deitsch, created a moment of confusion when he started chanting that the teachers need to be armed, but not with guns, but they need to be armed with pens, pencils, and papers. They need to be armed with resources to provide the best education they can, not with guns that can take away a life. Finally, the last, and most moving speech given was by Emma Gonzalez, one of the most prominent faces from March for Our Lives.  After reciting the names of the victims, she stood on the stage in silence for six minutes and twenty seconds, the amount of time it took the shooter to conduct his massacre in Parkland. The crowd was mostly silent; a few cries of “We love you Emma!” were heard but quickly quieted. Tears were welling up in the eyes of many as those six minutes felt like a lifetime. Six minutes was enough time to take away seventeen lifetimes and it was in that moment that I knew exactly why I was marching.  No student should have to hide in a classroom, trembling with fear, while their friends are murdered. No mother, sister, father, or brother should have to hear that their daughter or sibling was one of the few who did not make it out alive. No one should have to live in fear of being a victim of gun violence. That is why I marched, for better gun control laws, for the ban of automatic assault rifles, for the ban of bumpstocks and high capacity magazines, and finally for the support of the thousands of women, teenagers, students, fathers, and children who are murdered every year that these laws are not in place.