Kate Alexis Abogado, Freshman
I'd never been to a march before. It was something I'd always wanted to do, especially since I live so close to Washington D.C. When I heard the school was sponsoring a trip, I jumped at the chance to go because this movement was something I wholeheartedly believe in. I have two younger sisters: one that's 15 and one that's 7. I kind of wanted to set an example for them and let them know that I agreed with the March For Our Lives - I think that we shouldn't live in a world where we become numb to gun violence, and I don't want my sisters to grow up thinking that so many school shootings are normal. I'm a big supporter of change. I didn't think I'd be so surprised at the turnout - I've been to DC so many times, but I'd never seen so many people in the city at once. It was an incredible sight. Seeing the march in person and watching everyone show their support for the message and the survivors was the most amazing thing I've gotten the chance to witness. It opened my eyes that we as a generation really have the chance to bring change and affect policy. The overwhelming presence of people unified by one message was really powerful, and it was mind blowing to be a part of it.
Chloe Colbert, Sophomore
I went to the march because I’m tired of hearing people say “thoughts and prayers” after a tragedy like this happens. I never really understood the point of that, especially because it always comes after the fact. A lot of officials say it and it’s kind of their excuse to not actually do anything and that’s not okay. We need real action. We need to replace the corrupt congress members in Washington with people who actually give a damn. I also went to represent Chicago because while school shootings are horrific, they’re sometimes the only shootings that get national attention. Gun violence and slaughter is a part of so many people’s everyday lives in Chicago and it's about time there was a march in their honor too. I learned that it is important to take immediate action. Tragedies happen and emotions explode in that moment, but in a month’s time they usually subside. It's important to keep the moment alive to the point where real laws are passed or help is given. The people directly affected don’t get to move on with the rest of the world and they will still need support long after something else has caught the public’s attention.
Lucy Totino, Sophomore
I went to March for Our Lives because I've been seeing so many tragedies on the news and it's absolutely devastating that gun violence and mass shootings have become such a normal occurrence in the United States. Kids are genuinely afraid to go to school, or to walk down the street alone because gun violence has become so common. And the fact that our politicians don't understand the urgency of this is them blatantly failing to do their job as a public servant. I know people are probably tired of hearing this, but it is an American problem and American law-makers are failing to do their job by ignoring that. Organizing is an amazing way for people to come together and use their voices. All of the speakers were amazing. While I knew why I was attending the march and why it was important to me, the kids who spoke about their experiences with gun violence and those they'd lost to it really put it into a harsh perspective for me. This isn't just a once in a while occurrence, there are people who live with this fear everyday because they lost a friend or family member to unnecessary violence, maybe even right in front of their homes. A lot of the time it isn't on the front page or in the news so people don't even realize it.
Sean Scott, Sophomore
I marched because I could not miss such a momentous opportunity to participate in a historic movement and because it means so much to me, especially in today’s political climate. Dating back to the horrific massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, gun violence has been a powerful and particularly important issue to me. I also marched because I had an amazing opportunity to cover the march for class. It was such a surreal feeling to be in the midst of such an movement. Seeing each of those brave students get up on stage and speak with such amazing grace and eloquence, given the tragic circumstances, emboldened me and motivated me to keep fighting for change in this country going forward. I got a real sense of hope emanating from the old and the young alike; from teachers to fellow students, there was an aura of change in the air and I think everyone there felt it. Covering the march from a journalistic perspective was also extremely rewarding. Being able to immerse myself in the crowd and experience everything taught me valuable lessons regarding covering sensitive events of such magnitude. I am extremely thankful and privileged I got to witness and participate in history in the nation’s capital on Saturday.
Shannon Ferguson, Sophomore
I went to the march because this is an issue I’m really passionate about, and I feel like it’s our generation’s opportunity to make a change.This march gave me a lot of faith in my generation and people younger than me. We are not too young to be talking about these issues. There are so many people from all walks of life affected by gun violence and seeing so many people come out and stand up for a change not just in Syracuse but around the world was really powerful.
Cella Desharnais, Junior
Attending the march in downtown Syracuse was an eye-opening experience. Originally, I’d wanted to check out the march in DC as I knew it would be a much larger crowd, but the Syracuse community showed up and proved that their resilience and passion is equal to, if not more powerful, than the crowd of 800,000 by the White House. Knowing that there is a strong representation of conservative views surrounding the Syracuse area had me worried about the possible consequences of the march, but a mere five minutes into hearing speeches and chants and reading signs gave me a sense of safety and reassurance. I was surrounded by mothers who had lost their children to gun violence, teachers who go to work everyday with a love strong enough to protect 20+ children, and fellow students who don’t want to see their best friend shot in the middle of class. The citizens of Syracuse showed up to fight to protect their children, students, neighbors, and loved ones with a fire lit under their feet. The entire experience was inspiring and re-instilled the notion that no matter how young you are, you can speak up and make a change. Society has greatly underestimated our generation, and the lengths we will go to to be heard. The children of our generation have finally spoken up and said enough is enough, and nothing has made me feel more empowered than to be at the march to witness it.
BreeAnna Poshek, Junior
I decided to attend the March for Our Lives event in D.C. primarily because, as a future educator, I felt like it was important to support the up-and-coming generation in their fight against injustice. These could very well be my students one day, after all. Because D.C. was the primary site for this international movement against gun violence, there were speeches from several of the survivors from recent and past school shootings. Youth from all over the country also spoke about their years of experience with the normalcy of gun violence in their communities in cities like Brooklyn, Los Angeles and Chicago. These students of color spoke about how they have been calling for gun reform and support in their community for years and never received the same support. It was very emotionally taxing to listen to twenty or so stories in a row of youth who have starred down the barrel of a gun or lost loved ones and friends to gun violence. However, as a future educator, I think it was important that I heard first-hand what it was like to live with this as your normal – what it is like when you bring that trauma into the classroom with you while you’re trying to learn. One of the speeches which really spoke to me was by Edna Chavez, a 17-year-old girl from South L.A. who spoke about losing her brother and the trauma that experience inflicted on her mother, her sister and Edna herself. I will never forget Edna’s strength. She serves as a student leader in a community coalition for action working to make very real changes to the education system. She called for social justice advocates and mental health professionals on staff in schools, as well as, the demilitarization of schools that make youth of color feel further criminalized. Her speech along with many others, reminded me that if these youth can educate themselves and take action towards very real change in the world, then I have no excuse.
Nathan Shearn, Junior
I went to the March for Our Lives in Washington, DC because I believe in intersectional activism. Gun violence is an issue that particularly affects young people in minority communities, and the government has done almost nothing to address it. I felt it was important for me to be with the crowd in DC and show my support for all victims of gun violence. Ultimately, I believe that gun violence is tied to a network of other issues -- like poverty and unemployment -- and that if we are ever going to achieve meaningful change -- the kind that will save hundreds or thousands of lives -- those of us who are invested in activism and social justice need to put our solidarity into practice. To me, this means standing up and showing support for people and communities who are dealing with different forms of violence -- whether it be state, structural, or everyday violence. It means putting pressure on our politicians and using our vote when it really counts. Going to DC was an overwhelming and emotionally draining experience. I felt a mixture of anger, frustration, and hope. Certainly, it was like nothing I had ever encountered before. I would definitely go again.
Sarah Epelman, Junior
I attended the March for Our Lives because as a student activist I knew it was important to support and uplift other students in their endeavors and in the fight for gun control reform. It was a very powerful, uplifting and validating experience. Young voices tend to either get lost in the crowd or completely shut out by adults. This march was a powerful reminder to both younger and older populations that millennials, Gen Z and all the ones to come are just getting started. Parkland students, Black Lives Matter activists, elementary and middle schoolers, university students all have a voice and will use it to vote, to rally, to unite, to make sure no one gets left behind. This march was a continuation of the ongoing effort for gun control reform, it attempted to and, in my opinion, did heighten the voices of individuals neglected by mainstream media. I am so happy and proud I got to witness history.
Ryan Patel, Junior
Attending the March For Our Lives in Syracuse was an incredible opportunity to see the community support and dedication to ending gun violence. It was especially inspiring to see so many middle-schoolers and high schoolers leading the march and delivering powerful, passionate speeches about gun control and curbing gun violence through a multi-faceted and intersectional lens. Hearing stories from teachers and professors from the local high schools and Syracuse University allowed everyone to experience this event in a much deeper, profound way. Just by witnessing the crowds, seeing democracy in action, and joining people of all backgrounds, political affiliations, identities, abilities, and ages coming together to march and rally around this cause was an awesome moment I will never forget.