CORAL SPRINGS, FL - I was there and I’ll never forget it.
On March 24, 2018, March For Our Lives held an event in Washington D.C. to help stop gun violence across the nation. Hundreds of similar, coordinated marches were held on the same day, under the same name, around the world.
It was a response to the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where I graduated from in 2018 and did my best to be a part of the movement.
Being there for the march, on the streets of our nation’s capital, was life-changing for me. Thanks to a grant from The Giffords Foundation, I got to take part in so much – I was interviewed on CNN, listened to former Vice President Joe Biden speak to a small audience, and met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. I even got to lobby a congressman for sensible gun reform.
So where is March For Our Lives now? Where’s the voice, the passion, the call for change? What ever happened to the student leaders such as Cameron Kasky, David Hogg and Emma González?
Well, the message and the people are still out there, just not all in one place or wrapped nicely in one package.
The movement started out with a strong and clear message to end gun violence and reform what gun control looks like in our nation. This was so personal to me and many other MSD survivors. While we weren’t on the front lines of the media interviews, many of us worked for change behind the scenes with various organizations and in our own ways.
The event created the hope of actual change on the horizon, just weeks after the unthinkable tragedy. It was a movement filled with the aspiration to honor our 17 classmates and faculty we lost and the 17 others who were injured. We were driven by the determination that no other person would have to live through another shooting.
Today, two years later, the movement is different.
There are relatively few references in the media. But that doesn’t mean it has completely disappeared.
March For Our Lives is a national organization. There’s a board of nine members. They seem to now rely on a chapter system, some of which have essentially become clubs at high school and college campuses.
According to March For Our Lives’ website, there are more than 300 active chapters around the globe.
I’ve volunteered with the chapter at University of Central Florida, where I’m finishing my second year. I have always had a passion to get involved where I was able to, and more recently I’m proud of helping to register people to vote on my campus.
March For Our Lives started out with an important message and over time it’s sadly resonated with more and more young people across the country after every new tragedy. That initial message of finding and getting reasonable bipartisan gun control reform so that we can regain some sense of safety is what has stuck with MSD survivors long after the march in Washington and the other activities.
So many people in our community are still connected to the central theme of March For Our Lives.
If in the future we want to see that message spread, we need to continue to be actively engaged in politics and involve ourselves with any of the multitude of organizations dedicated to finding bipartisan solutions to the gun violence epidemic.
I’m proud of everything March For Our Lives has accomplished so far. I plan to stay connected with the organization and beyond that, I will do my best to find other national movements and ways to get involved so that the message our community attached to can be accomplished.
I hope you will, too.
Ariel Braunstein, who lives in Coral Springs, is a student at University of Central Florida. She is an intern for TAPinto Coral Springs.
Read her other perspective article on the upcoming graduation at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School here.
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