BU Today

Opinion

POV: What Was Different about the March for Our Lives

Led by young people, millions of Americans now ready for a revolution

7

We had seen it all before.

The signs. The crowds. The chanting. “Enough is enough.” “Never again.” “Not one more.”

But this protest felt different. This past weekend, I traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in the March for Our Lives, one of 800 related marches across the globe Saturday calling for commonsense gun laws. With the nation’s Capitol building visible in the distance, I marched, chanted, and hoped alongside nearly one million others who, like me, are fed up.

We’re fed up because 96 Americans are killed each day by gun violence. We’re fed up because mass shootings and school shootings have become commonplace, maybe even expected. We’re fed up because too many of our politicians take their cues (and donations) from the National Rifle Association instead of their constituents. And most of all, we’re fed up because the solutions are so clear.

So we marched. And we chanted. And we listened as the speakers, all young people, shared their experiences and insights. We listened to stories of heartbreak and fear from students ranging from Parkland, Fla., to Chicago to Brooklyn. And we wiped away tears as Yolanda Renee King, nine-year-old granddaughter of Martin Luther King, Jr. (GRS’55, Hon.’59), spoke with more poise and passion than many of our nation’s leaders.

It was a powerful day, to say the least. But why was it different this time?

This time, the march was led by young people. Every speaker emphasized the same message: it’s our turn now. As a 20-year-old college student, I watched and listened with amazement and pride as students and children younger than me addressed a crowd that stretched beyond what the eye could see.

The fact that the march, and the rejuvenated push for commonsense gun reform more broadly, are being led by this country’s youth is significant for numerous reasons. Their leadership echoes the role of students in the Civil Rights Movement and the 1960s anti-war movement. Their involvement has added urgency to the call for gun reform legislation. Children are among those most impacted by gun violence in this country. With school shootings occurring nearly every month, students, with the support of their families and teachers, are now making their voices heard.

Children want to go to school to learn and grow, not to hide under desks and fear for their lives. That’s a narrative, and a reality, that no politician should be able to ignore.

Cameron Kasky speaks at the March for Our Lives protest in Washington DC

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School junior Cameron Kasky was the first of more than a dozen student speakers to address an estimated crowd of 800,000 at the March for Our Lives in Wasington, D.C., on March 24.

And that brings us to the other reason Saturday’s protest felt like a turning point: yes, you heard the usual catchphrases and slogans that have marked other gun reform rallies, but they were accompanied—even overshadowed—by an even more important message the crowd chanted between speakers: “Vote them out.”

Saturday’s march was aimed at getting out the vote. With crucial midterm elections coming this November, one could sense that this movement’s mission has shifted from rhetoric to action. Yes, it’s necessary to educate Americans on the epidemic of gun violence in this country, but the only way to cause real, concrete change is to vote. And politicians beware, because there are millions of pissed-off Americans ready for a revolution. The message is clear: either do something or start packing up your office. Thoughts and prayers won’t cut it anymore.

The impact of this weekend’s worldwide slate of marches remains to be seen. But I’m hopeful. The message from young people that these rallies are only the beginning shows they’re determined to keep fighting until the necessary change happens. And with all eyes on November’s midterms, this time feels different.

And politicians across America have been warned: stand up, or step down.

Jacob Gurvis (COM’20) can be reached at jgurvis@bu.edu.

“POV” is an opinion page that provides timely commentaries from students, faculty, and staff on a variety of issues: on-campus, local, state, national, or international. Anyone interested in submitting a piece, which should be about 700 words long, should contact Rich Barlow at barlowr@bu.edu. BU Today reserves the right to reject or edit submissions. The views expressed are solely those of the author and are not intended to represent the views of Boston University.

7 Comments

7 Comments on POV: What Was Different about the March for Our Lives

  • Bill on 03.27.2018 at 11:10 am

    Didn’t see any signs concerning the Broward County Sheriff’s office catastrophic failure.

    • Kitty on 03.27.2018 at 1:27 pm

      Or that of the FBI. Nor that of the school district which (still) participates in an Obama administration initiative to reduce the arrests of enrolled school students who commit crimes, in return for generous financial grants.

      Had any of the local, state, or federal law enforcement agencies acted on the information provided to them, over years and many occasions, about the threat that Mr. Cruz presented OR had the school district heeded the documented threats (constituting crimes in and of themselves) made by their student over years, this tragedy would have be prevented.

      Common sense should begin in the schools: We have armed officers in airports, rail stations — even MBTA stations — to help assure the safety of the traveling public. Why isn’t the safety of our children, our most valuable resource, a priority in schools?

      If my children were still in school, I would be working to assure that there were at least one police officer there, and to remove their schools from the “gun free zone.” Those who intend to cause chaos, injury, and death do not heed the “gun free zone” designation, and when they arrive at their chosen site, there is no one there to stop them. Once again, we are grateful for protection in many public places and in transportation centers; why would we not provide that protection to our school children?

      • Alum on 03.28.2018 at 1:58 pm

        Ah yes, the ever popular “restorative justice”.

  • Dan on 03.27.2018 at 12:27 pm

    I bet very few of these people marching know how to dress a bullet wound, stem traumatic blood loss, properly wear a bulletproof vest, or return fire to suppress a terrorist armed with a semiautomatic rifle.

    Young people need to learn to take charge of their own safety before trying to tell everyone else to give up their rights. Don’t expect other people to solve your problems for you when you grow up, kids!

    • Kelle K on 03.28.2018 at 7:27 pm

      this IS young people taking charge of their safety. this is young people protesting being killed in school. this is young people protesting so they don’t have to dress the bullet wounds of their teenage classmates.

  • Jose Artigas on 03.27.2018 at 5:16 pm

    It is an honor to be inspired by the young activists from MSD in Parkland. Lower the minimum age for holding office — they are ready for public service RIGHT NOW!

  • Jose Artigas on 03.27.2018 at 5:43 pm

    Let’s not blame everyone & everything EXCEPT guns, their abusers, manufacturers, & the pols who enable them. It’s an excellent way to ensure that we all remain unsafe.

Post Your Comment

(never shown)