What March for Our Lives Means for the Future of Black Lives Matter
By Shayla Simmons
The young leaders of the March for Our Lives movement accomplished much in little time, leading a protest both online and in person that garnered international attention, celebrity endorsements and an outstanding wave of support.
It has been an impressive feat considering that most of the faces of the movement are not yet of legal age to vote. But most importantly, they had the foresight and humanity to allow for overlooked voices to use their platform.
In the wake of the March for our Lives demonstration, which took place March 24 on the nation’s capital and across the world, a very important question needs to be asked: Where does Black Lives Matter belong in the outcry for gun reform?
Despite their age, the young activists who are the face of the movement have the answer that many three times their age have yet to grasp _ Black Lives Matter has a place at the table in the discussion about gun control.
One of the most prolific and impactful speeches made at the march came from 11-year-old Naomi Wadler, whose entire message was “to acknowledge the African American girls whose stories do not make the front pages of every national newspaper, whose stories don’t lead on the evening news”. Unfortunately, her simple truth is still unnecessarily controversial.
The issue is not with the student leaders and those brave enough to stand with them. Rather, the issues concern those that cannot truly support the cause. The time, donations, and support offered to March for Our Lives are outstanding, but the same love and passion should be extended to the people of color who are consistently under the onslaught of gun violence.
There is an extreme lack of awareness, sympathy, and understanding of the Black experience. There are no magazine covers for our leaders. Multiple thousand-dollar checks are not being written in our name. And we are not seen as revolutionaries, but rather rioters. The playing field is not level in the public opinion of the media or even the private thoughts of individuals.
But all hope is not lost. We are witnesses to a change for the better.
“…We are here to join together in unity fighting for the same goals. I say family because of all the pain that I see in the crowd. And that pain is another reason why we are here. Our pain makes us family. Us hurting together brings us closer together to fight for something better,” said Alex King, a student at Chicago’s North Lawndale College Prep, another speaker at the march.
Something better is on the horizon only because the stage is being shared with the unrepresented, and with it, our voices are louder than ever before.