March For Our Lives was punctuated with beautiful moments of resilience and intelligence from young people
The explosion of activism since the Parkland shooting on February 14 led by young people in America has been heartbreaking, heartwarming and seemingly the most sustained attempt at changing the law to save lives.
At the March For Our Lives protest, which took place all over the US and beyond but centred around the American capital, Washington D.C, the demands of young people were laid out clearly: a ban on assault weapons used in school shootings, restrictions on the amount of ammunition that magazines can hold and the implementation of laws requiring stricter background checks on every gun purchase.
While the US President Donald Trump has stayed conspicuously silent on the march (he tweeted five times yesterday without mentioning it), all over the world people have been showing their support; including the UK Dunblane school massacre survivors.
Alongside Dazed's Instagram takeover coverage, here are nine of the best moments from the day:
EMMA GONZALEZ HELD A STRIKING MOMENT OF SILENCE
When Emma Gonzalez speaks you can hear the rawness of her pain. The 18-year-old survivor of the Parkland shooting who has been battling with legislators (including a Republican candidate who thought it was appropriate to call her a “skinhead lesbian” and “bald-faced liar”) since the massacre, made sure to mention the names of the students who were not lucky enough to survive the incident. She then held strong through a moment of silence, with the length of her time on stage recognising how long it took for the shooter to kill 17 students. “Six minutes and about 20 seconds,” she said. “In a little over 6 minutes, 17 of our friends were taken from us, 15 were injured and everyone in the Douglas community was forever altered,” she said.
VIC MENSA DEDICATED A SONG TO BLACK VICTIMS OF POLICE KILLINGS
“This song is dedicated to Stephon Clark, Decynthia Clements and all the unarmed black men and women killed by police weapons,” Vic Mensa said before performing his anti-oppression track “We Could Be Free”. Stephon was an unarmed 22-year-old black man and father of two killed by the police in his own back garden last week. Decynthia was also killed by the police in an incident where they believed her to be suicidal. In an interview with Dazed, Mensa explained why he speaks up for black people who are victims of gun violence. “In the case of Mike Brown or Tamir Rice, you know these are all kids that look like me in a picture,” he said. “Channelling the struggle that they and their families face feels organic for me.”
NAOMI WALDER SPOKE UP FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN GIRLS
One of the youngest activists to speak on stage, 11-year-old Naomi Walder delivered a biting and important speech, channelling the undercurrent of intersectionality when she reminded the crowd that not everyone is privileged enough to be given a voice in the fight against gun violence. “I am here today to acknowledge and represent the African-American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper,” she said, “whose stories don’t lead on the evening news. I represent the African-American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential.”
SIGNAGE WAS ON POINT
EDNA CHAVEZ EXPLAINED HER TRAUMA
“I learned to duck bullets before I learned to run,” South LA native and youth leader Edna Chavez announced on stage. It was a heartbreaking reminder of just how young some of those affected by gun violence in the US can be. Chavez went on to explain that her brother had passed away due to gun violence. “My brother. He was in high school when he passed away," Edna said. "It was a day like any other day. The sunset was going down on south central. You hear pops thinking they were fire works. They weren't pops. You see the melanin on your brother's skin turn grey.” The crowd went on to chant his name: Ricardo.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR'S GRANDDAUGHTER RALLIED THE CROWD
Yolanda Renee King took a leaf out of her great-grandfather's book and spoke about her own dream for the future of America in her short speech. The baby activist, who is only nine-years-old, said: “I have a dream that enough is enough and that this should be a gun-free world,” while the crowd cheered. “Period.”
KANYE AND KIM CAME THROUGH
Kim tweeted that she was glad to be able to share such a special day with both Kanye and their daughter North West. “I hope North remembers this forever.” The couple attended the march in Washington D.C.
So ready to March today! Landed in DC w North & Kanye. We stand in solidarity with the survivors of gun violence & students who are calling for action on common sense gun safety laws at #MarchForOurLives around the country @AMarch4OurLives@Everytown— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) March 24, 2018
SAMANTHA FUENTES THREW UP ON STAGE BUT CONTINUED HER SPEECH
Samantha Fuentes was wounded in the Parkland shooting and first made international news after she blasted Donald Trump for calling her with well wishes. “I’ve never been so unimpressed by a person in my life. He didn’t make me feel better in the slightest,” she told the press at the time. Her ongoing bravery was encapsulated when she vomited onstage at March For Our Lives but continued her speech a few moments later with a big grin on her face. “I just threw up on international television and it feels great. We're not asking for a ban we're asking for compromise, forget your sides and colour, let's save one another!”
CHICAGO STUDENTS DUCT TAPED THEIR MOUTHS
At the March For Our Lives, Alex King and D'Angelo McDade represented young black American men who have to contend with gun violence every day of their lives, and not just during school shootings. They came onto the stage holding their fists high with black power and both delivered rousing, uplifting speeches. “As I stand here before you, I stand as D’Angelo McDade, an 18-year-old from the West Side of Chicago. I, too, am a victim, a survivor and a victor of gun violence,” D’Angelo said after ripping the duct tape from his mouth. “I come from a place where minorities are controlled by both violence and poverty… but today we say ‘No more!’”