On March 24, 2018, over 30,000 protesters marched to the state capitol in an effort to gather together in opposition to weak gun regulations, in schools and beyond.
“I feel that gun violence is something that really affects all of us, especially in schools, said sophomore Kathryn Penn. “Gun violence is something that I feel really strongly about, so I made it a priority to get [to the march].
March For Our Lives, a student led rally, gathered protesters from all parts of the state. It began at the Center For Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta with variety of performances, including poems, songs and speakers. Among these speakers were student body president Jake Busch and 5th District Representative and civil rights icon John Lewis. They were joined by survivors of the Parkland shooting on Valentine’s Day.
“I was really happy to see that Jake was speaking,” said sophomore Lucy Adelman. “I was really empowered by the students from Parkland who spoke.”
Adelman has been particularly outspoken in the topic of gun violence due to a personal loss from the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“For a while, every news event made me desensitized to all the gun violence happening, up until the February 14 massacre,” said Adelman. “One of the girls who was killed attends my summer camp. A bunch of my friends go to that school, so that was a very personal connection to me and why I decided to take action.”
With Busch, Adelman planned the walkout that took place on March 14 and is working on the walkout on April 20.
She has also organized events outside of Chamblee Charter High School.
“For the March For Our Lives, I led a pre-rally service for Jews in Atlanta,” said Adelman. “That was really successful. We got over 400 people together singing and getting ready for the March For Our Lives.”
Adelman and Busch are not the only young leaders among the Chamblee student body.
“I am one of the founders of the club UNICEF,” said sophomore Skylar Livengood. “We hosted a club meeting, and had people come and make all the posters.”
Livengood attended the march with fellow sophomores Emily Young and Klara Nitsche.
“I made a poster and I made a t-shirt that said ‘enough is enough’,” said Young. “I’m glad that everyone came together and did something like this.”
Over the duration of the march, students chanted phrases such as ‘Hey hey, ho ho, the NRA has got to go’ and ‘This is what democracy looks like.’
“My group was towards the front of the march,” said Penn. “We were marching, we were chanting, and it was just really positive vibes all around.”
The march, which was approximately a mile and a half long, ended across the street from the Georgia Capitol Building. Videos were shown on a screen displaying students from around the country speaking out against perceived legislative inaction. Followed by this were more speakers, each with a unique message with their story on gun violence.
“I thought all the speakers were really good,” said Penn. “They all said something different, which I think is really important.”
After the gathering ended, the protesters dispersed, but their message remained strong.
“I think it’s important to stand up for what you believe in,“ said Young. “What the people leading our country are doing right now isn’t effective enough to make a change.”
Future events are in the process of being planned, including another school walkout on April 20.
Overall, students are grateful for the support they’re receiving from their city and their peers.
“I thought it was a very successful event,” said Adelman. “I was very happy that so many people showed up to say enough is enough.”