April 4 will mark the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968. This past week, March for Our Lives marked the largest student-lead demonstration since the Vietnam War, as 1.2 million marched for gun control across the country. In front of those people, MLK’s granddaughter, nine-year-old Yolanda Renee King, made a surprise appearance and carried on her grandfather’s legacy.
Mirroring her grandfather’s famed, “I Have a Dream” speech, also given at a march in Washington, Yolanda stated in front of the crowd, “I have a dream that enough is enough. And that this should be a gun-free world, period.” She then led the crowd in a chant: “Spread the word! Have you heard? All across the nation, we are going to be a great generation!” The crowd responded vigorously, and the nine-year-old smiled and giggled as she walked off stage, followed by applause.
The amount of protesters that Parkland students were able to mobilize is being called a “political miracle,” but the movement hasn’t escaped without criticism. A major critique has been the contrast between the support shown for March for Our Lives and lack of attention towards the violence black communities and youths face every day.
Critics had to have been pleasantly surprised by the steps taken by the teenage organizers of the march, making sure speakers were inclusive and that each one served as a contributor to the overall narrative of the day, that everyone’s lives deserve protection from gun violence.
For years now, black and Latino communities have suffered from gun-related violence. With the threat and use of guns seen as “normal” in inner cities and urban areas, the issue has seemingly been brushed under the rug. School children from these communities who die from gun violence are not talked about across the nation, they’re just viewed as another statistic. Gun violence in these communities are seen as case studies and normalcies. That is until a mass shooting occurs and suddenly politicians, political organizations, celebrities, and the elite all have an opinion or a prayer to give to the victims.
The difference this time around is that March for Our Lives organizers—surviving Parkland teenagers–saw this discrepancy and made an effort to address it. They understood that guns don’t just affect their school, that the violence was being broadcasted on nation-wide news and getting unlimited coverage. These students knew that gun violence happens every day in communities across the country. Black children die regularly at the hands of guns, yet their stories are never shared, their names are not heard.
March for Our Lives made a powerful statement to American congressmen and political higher-ups. This generation will no longer stand for the abuse of power, monetary contributions, and special interest group alignments, which keep guns in the hands which have potential to harm others. For Parkland survivors, enough is enough—not just for white high school students, but for all Americans.
The inclusion of representatives from minority communities who shared their stories and put names to victims often seen as numbers should inspire the nation further to take action. The issue of gun violence in America affects us all, and we should care about its impact on everyone, no matter the skin color.