Guest Opinion: March is a Sign of Generational Change

By Olivia Skrilloff ’18

Over 800,000 people flooded the streets this past Saturday to join in the March for Our Lives, a student organized protest calling for common sense gun control. Eight students and one teacher from Northwood were part of this 800,000.

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Emma González addresses the crowd at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

We marched under the call of “no more,” we marched under the stipulation that the need to stop senseless murders is more important than a civilian’s right to own an assault rifle. We called for gun control: pass a law to ban the assault weapons frequently used to carry out mass shootings, stop the sale of high-capacity magazines, restricting the amount of ammunition, and close loopholes in America’s background checks.

It was truly a student led affair; no one who spoke at the march was over 18, and speakers went as young as 9 years old.  And while critics are saying that these students are too savvy, too polished to be doing this without help, the reality is that these students are the digital natives we know them to be. Most of the organizing was done online with kids galvanizing together through Twitter.

There is a generational wave cresting much like the generational wave of the 60s, in which the U.S experienced student led protests like lunch counter sit ins led by black teenagers. The difference though is this wave is more wide spread.  Old lines of gender, race and sexuality are falling with our generation. We are more open, accepting, and willing to reach across demographics, geography, race and culture. You could see this throughout the march as the crowd in Washington was diverse and united. Our generational wave could bring a tsunami of change.

Armed with homemade signs the 800,000 people in the crowd echoed the message for change with chants of: “No More”, “Enough is Enough”, “Vote them Out”, and “We Want Change”. The kids that spoke and I do mean kids, were all incredibly eloquent and well-spoken. They reiterated the message that generation Z has the power to create change. They encouraged the audience to vote and to hold their representatives accountable.

It was somber in some parts as the march also served as a memorial to honor the victims of gun violence, but there was an electricity in the air and a feeling of hope. The speakers and the march in general highlighted the fact that our generation is not too young to have political opinions, if we risk  getting shot everyday at school, we should be allowed to have an opinion about being shot. We have the ability to make change, and we certainly made our voices heard.

The definite standout speaker at the march was Emma Gonzalez, one of the main student organizers, who also took most of the criticism even being called a “skinhead lesbian,” by a GOP hopeful. She stunned the crowd by remaining silent for most of her speech in front of 800,000 people. She was poised and powerful. Yes some nervous chanting broke out and screams of encouragement occurred at times, but for most of the speech the crowd was quiet: the quiet one experiences when the mass of humanity is moved.  She has become an icon, much the way Joan of Arc was in France and Katniss Everdeen was in the Hunger Games. I have never before been a part of such a historic moment, and it was awe inspiring. Ms. Gonzalez can move mountains if she chooses to do so.

The overarching message of the march was that we have to show up to the midterm elections if we want to make the change our generation has the power to make. If you want to register to vote information can be found at: https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote.

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