Feeling Hopeful: Reflections of the Inspiring March for Our Lives Event

I arrived late to the March For Our Lives event last Saturday. Traffic and errands kept me from being on time, and I couldn’t even find the person I was supposed to meet there. Still, it was inspiring. Let me back it up here for a second.

If you haven’t been paying attention, the March for Our Lives rally came about because of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Valentine’s Day. Seventeen people lost their lives for absolutely no reason at all, but today millions of students and teachers stood up across the country and said “enough.”

Last Saturday I saw hope. I saw black, white and brown kids joining together to fight for each other; fighting to go to school and not be murdered. There was no race in this; all their lives mattered to them. If there was anything negative I saw that Saturday, it was a group of counter-protesters — so-called Second Amendment patriots — waving the flag and chanting “USA, USA,” while surrounded by Boston’s finest. It took me back to some of the negative stuff during the aftermath of the shooting. The victim blaming. How, if there was no bullying, there would be no school shootings. Hell, where I grew up if you got tired of being bullied you settled in the schoolyard at 3- not by bringing in an AR-15 and murdering people. Outlandish claims that the students are “crisis actors” or that they’re privileged white kids, or those on social media complaining how these kids get more airtime than other news stories. Those particular complaints come from the armchair social justice warriors who protest while laying on their sofa eating Doritos and playing games on Facebook. Yes, that was a little harsh, but those people can’t and shouldn’t take away from what happened last Saturday.

People ask me, will any of this make a difference? After all, there have been shootings since then. In fact, right before the march another black man was killed by a cop in his backyard carrying a cellphone. I don’t know if it will make a difference. More often than not it doesn’t. But remember this: it was school students that began the civil rights movement by taking a stand against injustice. They had enough, these students alongside their teachers, coaches, friends and parents took a stand, and on this Saturday for the first time in a very long time I felt hope.

James Shearer

James Shearer is a writer and co-founder of Spare Change News.