March For Our Lives, an event to push for gun law reform, is Saturday in Wilmington. Across the country, hundreds of thousands of students are expected to march to demand that their lives and safety become a priority, and that there is an end to gun violence in the nation’s schools and communities.
“We’re going to have to divert the march, it is not going to be able to go straight down Water Street because of construction ….”
Stacey McPherson is speaking with a group of high school students discussing the final details for Saturday’s march through downtown Wilmington. It will conclude with a series of speakers in front of the Federal Courthouse along the river.
“I’m here because I believe this is an issue that not only affects the victims, but all students in America and something really needs to change at this point.”
Summer Marshburn is a freshman at New Hanover High School, and has been helping organize the event.
“Since this is so normal for students, whenever there is a lock-down or a drill or something like that, people kind of take it as a joke because it’s so normal – it’s kind of been normalized to become a joke now – but I think people just don’t realize that it could actually happen to our school.”
Since the Parkland, Florida shooting last month that took the lives of 17 people, students have been leading the charge for school safety and better gun regulations. Last week, tens of thousands of students across the country walked out of their classrooms and onto athletic fields and city streets as part of a massive national protest on gun violence.
Emma Lippincott is a senior at Eugene Ashley High School, and has been spearheading the Saturday march effort.
“I 100 percent support the Second Amendment, it’s not about taking away people’s guns. It’s talking about and making sure students feel like they are safe when they go to school every day, and make sure there isn’t a chance that Parkland will happen again or a similar situation, where people are so scared to go out in public and worry about being shot, or worry about classmates threatening them and causing bodily harm to other people. It’s not about Second Amendment it’s about gun regulations and making sure students don’t get hurt anymore.”
Sophomore Emiko Andrews, from Hoggard High School will speak after the march, in front of the courthouse. .
“My focus will be on politicians. Holding politicians accountable, and making policy that will affect us as students and keep us safer in our schools.”
She says people are coming together.
“I think this time as high schoolers we feel, we feel it hit a little closer to home. Especially with the voice that the Parkland kids have had and on social media I feel like it’s more accessible, the message is more accessible. And then with the walk-outs it’s so much easier for us to go out, make our voices heard, and I think it is bringing in a lot of new people that maybe wouldn’t have spoken up before … to really think about this issue.”
Through the first 11 weeks of 2018, there have been 17 school shootings where someone was hurt or killed. The most recent this week in Maryland.
“I don’t think people will listen unless our younger generation speaks out.”
That’s Jessica Franks, President of the NAACP Wilmington Youth Council.
“I think a lot of people when they hear the older or the adult folks or the most seasoned folks speak out, you know, it’s kind of the same song just replaying. But if you have a newer voice, and if you have a young person really speaking out and saying ‘Hey this is what’s going on in my present, I don’t need my present to look like my future,’ that will allow our folks to open up their eyes and really think about the importance of what is going on.”