Americans got up early March 24, 2018, to unite in a heartwarming and empowering stand against gun violence.
Thousands of people across the U.S. and around the world joined together to organize, march, and protest with March for Our Lives, a demonstration against gun violence after the brutal high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February.
As expected, teens continued to show the world that they’re about to take it over, including Aalayah Eastmond, a self-described “regular black girl,” who reminded protesters that gun violence disproportionately affects communities of color.
“Yes, I am a Parkland survivor, but before this, I was a regular black girl. And after this I am still black and regular and I will fight for all of us,” says Aalayah Eastmond, a Stoneman Douglas student https://t.co/jujbxM0M4i #MarchForOurLives pic.twitter.com/lpZFjbQIaE
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 24, 2018
“We’ve been fighting for this way too long, and nothing has changed, and we need change now,” she said.
But it was the really young kids — students in elementary and middle school — who stole the show with their impassioned speeches demanding change.
“Our elected officials have seen American after American drop from a bullet,” said Jaclyn Corin, a Parkland survivor. “And instead of waking up to protect us, they’ve been hitting the snooze button. We’re here to shake them awake.”
She then surprised the crowd by bringing out Yolanda Renee King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s only grandchild.
“I have a dream that enough is enough,” King said, echoing her historic grandfather. “And that this should be a gun-free world, period.”
These young girls made it clear that our violence is abnormal, detrimental, and absolutely preventable. And this nation’s youth are going to see to it that lawmakers know that.
There was also 11-year-old Naomi Walder from Alexandria, Virginia, who rocked the house with her speech about women of color and activism.
Walder is making sure the disproportionate number of black women who have been victims of gun violence are at the forefront of this generation’s movement.
“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,” Wadler said.
There was also Christopher Underwood, an 11-year-old who lost his brother to gun violence in Brooklyn.
Christopher Underwood, an 11-year-old from Brooklyn, lost his brother to gun violence: “For me, I would like to not worry about dying, and focus on math and science and playing basketball with my friends. Don’t I deserve to grow up?” https://t.co/jujbxM0M4i #MarchForOurLives pic.twitter.com/71qRQfaJvP
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 24, 2018
“I have watched for years as gun violence continues to take a toll on communities across the country,” Underwood said. “For me, I would like to not worry about dying and focus on math and science and playing basketball with my friends. Don’t I deserve to grow up?”
And young Dezmond Floyd, a fifth-grader from Humble, Texas, who’s disgusted with how students are forced to worry about safety at their own schools.
“How did America get to this point?” he asks.
“School, lunch, and recess is normal,” Floyd said. “Dodgeball and freeze tag is normal. Columbine is not normal. Sandy Hook is not normal. Parkland is not normal. There’s nothing normal about the fact that my classroom, my classroom, can become a war zone at any given day at any given moment. But it doesn’t have to be this way.”
There were plenty of kids who gave their support in their own creative ways, too.
Like these Boston public school students demanding funding for their schools instead of guns for teachers.
These super energized students from Los Angeles speaking out against gun violence in their community.
And this adorable baby from Philadelphia who wants the world to know that our littlest ones want safety, too.
These inspiring, incredible, and insanely badass kids are showing us just how powerful youth voices are.
Historically, young Americans have led some of our most successful demonstrations demanding change, and it’s clear this American tradition of youth leadership isn’t going anywhere, if these kids have anything to do with it. Kids have changed the world once, and they’re going to do it again.
As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
Our kids are making sure that we get there.
Read more on the March for Our Lives with stories on Parkland student Emma Gonzalez’s emotional silence, D.C. student Zion Kelly’s speech on losing his twin to gun violence, outstanding protest signs, and photos from around the country.
And if you want to support the anti-gun-violence movement, we have a quiz for the best way you can help.