Cassie LaJeunesse, Campus Carrier Deputy News Editor
On Saturday, over 800 marches occurred around the world as part of the March for Our Lives protest. According to a mission statement on the March for Our Lives website, the goal of the protests is to “assure that no special interest group or political agenda is more critical than timely passage of legislation to effectively address the gun violence issues that are rampant in our country.”
The main event, which took place in Washington, D.C., was organized by students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where a gunman killed 17 people with an assault rifle on Feb. 14. According to USA Today, it was estimated by organizers that 800,000 people attended the march in Washington, DC, which would make this event the “largest single-day protest in the history of the nation’s capital.”
One of the sibling marches occurred in Atlanta, drawing a crowd of over 30,000 people to march from the Civil Rights Center to the State Capitol, according to WSB-TV Atlanta. Among those protesters were several Berry students.
“I decided to go to the march because I’m so used to hearing that we’re the generation that’s supposed to help change things, and if I want to be a part of that change, I have to show up,” sophomore Diamond Newsome said.
One thing that struck Newsome about the crowd was the diversity and representation. She said that people from all different racial, ethnic, political and age groups were in attendance, and she credits this to the fact that the march is first and foremost about children.
“I think that a lot of people thought that this was going to be about guns, but it really wasn’t,” Newsome said. “It was just about ‘let’s save our children’s lives, let’s make sure they can go into school and feel safe’, and I think that’s something that the country as a whole can agree on.”
Freshman Melody Creamer, who attended the Atlanta march with a group of friends, also believes that the involvement of young people is what sets this march apart from other protests and issues.
“When you study a lot of civil rights movements, the turning point is when the kids have had enough,” Creamer said. “When the young kids get fed up and when they make a stand, things tend to change.”
Before the actual march began, several performers and speakers addressed the crowd. One of these was Rep. John Lewis, who was introduced as “both the youngest speaker at a civil rights march more than half a century ago and the oldest to speak at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights today”, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Creamer was particularly impressed by the shows of support from the Atlanta community during the march. She said that several groups handed out free water bottles, and multiple Atlanta churches opened their doors to marchers who needed to rest or use the bathroom. Other churches rang their bells as the protesters passed by.
“It was really cool to see all of these people gathering together and fighting for this one cause,” Creamer said. “There was a really great feeling of solidarity. I don’t think I’ve felt anything quite like this before. Having this crowd of people and realizing that we’re all there for the same reason really caused a chord to be struck in all of us.”