Last weekend we witnessed one of the largest national student uprisings since the Vietnam War. The March for Our Lives saw hundreds of thousands of students and teachers, community and faith leaders, activists and artists, families and friends join together in a resounding call for an end to gun violence. The call echoed beyond the mass shooting last month in Parkland, FL, to incorporate victims and survivors of gun violence in all its forms.
Several of our partners, working at the intersection of racial and criminal justice, spoke up about the leading role that black activists have had in this movement for many years, and how last weekend's march was a positive model for unity and collaboration moving forward.
Our 2017 Communications Institute Fellow, Nailah Summers, the Communications Director of Dream Defenders, was quoted in a March 24 Time article on how the Parkland students are working to uplift minority anti-violence groups. “They’ve grown up watching Black Lives Matter and the national tension surrounding Black Lives Matter and other activist groups during their formative years. The students from Parkland are a culmination of all these movements right now,” she said. “They’re trying to make sure everybody’s issues are talked about.” Read the full piece.
Rachel Gilmore, the co-director of Dream Defenders, wrote an op-ed of a similar vein emphasizing the important role that young black activists had taken in the March for Our Lives. “Today’s march was estimated to have been one of the largest national student uprisings in the United States since the Vietnam War,” she writes. “But it didn’t start with the Parkland school shooting on February 14. Young black organizers were protesting the unjust killing of people of color at the hands of police six years ago. Today we saw the influence our activism has had marching down Constitution Avenue.” Read more.
Dante Barry, the co-director of Million Hoodies and a 2016 Communications Institute Fellow, was interviewed on C-Span during the March for Our Lives, discussing the work that Million Hoodies has done against gun violence and his recent op-ed for the Huff Post, “Any March for Our Lives Must Include Kids Like Trayvon Martin.” In the op-ed, Dante emphasizes that the issue of gun violence intersects with the current movement against state violence and mass criminalization. He remembers Trayvon Martin, who would have turned 23 last month, and what his death means for the greater movement. “We know that safety for black communities requires a move away from mass criminalization and a move toward fewer police,” Dante wrote.
Last month, Million Hoodies’ NYC chapter launched the #LIfeAt23 campaign to honor Trayvon Martin on his birthday, Feb. 5, and to draw the connections between police violence and gun violence. Learn about the project.