I was one of the thousands at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C.

Alexandra Torres-Perez

Several crowd members started crying as speakers spoke on how gun violence affected their lives. Photo by Alex Torres-Perez

A crowd of thousands had mixed reactions at Emma Gonzalez’s silence. One kid in front of me asked his friend what she was doing, but the other kid assured him that she knew what she was doing. Some people in the crowd cried along with her. Others started chanting “vote them out,” or “vote her in.” Gonzalez stood quiet with tears running down her face for around six minutes, the same amount of time it took a shooter to take the lives of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

All of the speakers at the March For Our Lives protest were 18 or under and, unfortunately, they were all affected by gun violence. Like the crowd, the speakers came from all around the United States.

Speakers included the 9-year-old granddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr., who stated she had a dream of a gun-free world.  L.A. student Edna Chavez spoke about how she saw the color in her brother’s skin fade as he died in front her. Another student, Mya Middleton, from Chicago told her personal experience that haunts her today when she was held at gunpoint at a store, and had to stare at the barrel of a gun.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Samantha Fuentes had one of the more memorable speeches. Not only did she throw up on live TV and came back smiling saying it feels great, she read a powerful poem she wrote herself. Then, Fuentes reminded the audience that March 24 was also one of the victim’s Nick Dworet’s birthday. She sang Happy Birthday with the crowd, but I was choked up in tears.

This was only one of the many moments where tears streamed down my face. Several speeches were powerful enough to bring the adults to tears, and performances from several artist also made me try to hide my crying face.

Lin Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt sang “Found Tonight,” a song that Miranda dedicated for the kids. Jennifer Hudson, who lost her mother, brother, and nephew to gun violence, also passionately sang a cover of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changing.”

Thousands of people crowded the streets to protest at the March of Our Lives.  Photo by Alex Torres-Perez

Over the past month, protests and walkouts have occurred throughout the United States, and the March for Our Lives was just another protest for gun reform. Over 800 events occured on March 24 throughout the entire world in hopes to gather the attention of Congress and Trump.

I’ve been covering several stories related to the Parkland shooting ever since the tragedy occurred last month, and have been really passionate about the coverage of related events since it was the first news story that impacted me personally.

In tears, I wrote a brief about the students who lost their lives in the school shooting on Valentine’s Day. I covered the vigil at UNF, the fundraisers. I spoke with students from MSD, but I never expected this story to become something so much bigger. I never expected these students to stand up and call for change.

As a journalist, I’m always told to keep my opinion out of things, but there comes a point where I too get to speak my mind, and I say: “Enough is enough.”

Speakers at the event encouraged young people to register to vote in order to cause the change they want. They also encouraged people to talk to their local representatives. A national school walk out is scheduled on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting in Colorado.

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