On Tuesday morning, U.S. Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts announced the dawn of a “children’s crusade.”
Speaking at a press conference in Hibernian Hall in Roxbury, with the organization Mothers for Justice and Equality, Markey noted the importance of students’ movements, in the wake of to a mass shooting of 17 high school students last week in Parkland, Florida.
“There is a war on the schools of our country right now that is being waged. Children have to find a way to protect themselves at their schools. These young people are demanding change, and it is our responsibility, in Washington, to give them that,” said Sen. Markey.
The survivors of the shooting on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School gathered in Florida’s capital yesterday to package of gun control laws. They made public plans for a nationwide March on Washington, D.C., in coordination with other cities, including Boston.
Monalisa Smith, the President of Mothers for Justice and Equality, affirmed the value of the students’ movements. She lost a nephew to gun violence in 2010.
“Our children, out of the ashes of their loss, we are witnessing the birth of activists,” Smith said. “We are witnessing our children — not lying dormant and just taking it — they are standing up and saying enough is enough.”
A student, junior Junelle Matthias at Codman Academy, gave voice to students’ fear and need for safety in schools.
“Everyday we sit back and do nothing, a little child is killed, someone gets a gun illegally, and mental illness and all the other factors that go into this issue get worse. We need to come together as a human race to try to prevent this. Children are the future. If all of us are dying out, what are we going to have left?” Matthias said.
“As the adults, I’m asking you to make the gun laws stricter so my peers, my friends, my teachers and people that come into my school feel safe, and can help me succeed.”
Markey closed his conference with a nod to the power of student activism.
“We are at the dawn of a children’s crusade. I don’t think these children are going to accept ‘no’ for an answer. I think that this is, for me, the moment where I’ve begun to have a little more optimism. Because you can actually hear, in the voices of the children, a demand that the political system respond.”