On Saturday, March 24, hundreds of people gathered in Wilmington, Delaware, to attend their local March for Our Lives. However, this was not any typical March for Our Lives gathering. Students and adults came together in the city of Wilmington, notoriously known as Murdertown USA, and the 5th most dangerous city in the world. Clutching signs and chanting mantras, supporters marched up and down the streets of Wilmington with one motive in mind: We demand change.
The march began at Howard High School and concluded in Rodney Square, where protesters attended a pre-planned rally. College Media Network spoke with two Wilmington student coordinators of their local March for Our Lives, Aidan O’Neill of Salesianum School and Ellen Schlecht of Ursuline Academy.
O’Neill explained how about 15 students from high schools all across the state came together to thoroughly plan out jobs, logistical details and the speaker schedules only a few weeks before the event occurred. As an emcee, O’Neill enjoyed guiding the speakers and interacting crowd throughout the day. He acknowledged how it was inspiring to have such a unique array of speakers, ranging from age eleven to sixty.
“The beauty of this movement is how organic and raw it is, and we saw that on full display with the teens who spoke on Saturday,” O’Neill said.
Most of the event’s speakers addressed their specific concerns and solutions, many of which are being reviewed by the Delaware General Assembly. “It was so powerful to see Nekayla Stokes, only eleven, represent the Stop the Violence Prayer Chain Foundation with such eloquence and a pertinent call for change,” O’Neill told CMN.
Several state politicians were in attendance, including Governor Carney and Senator Coons. Former Vice President, Joe Biden briefly addressed the rallying crowd after making a surprise visit.
“I think [Biden] was a reassurance to many of the teens in the crowd that we were where we’re supposed to be, making the changes we want to see,” Schlecht told CMN. “Usually I don’t enjoy being in crowds, but something about being with hundreds of people that want the same thing I do is exciting.”
When asked about takeaways from this event, the two student activists are proud and remain determined and hopeful. “While our reason for having to march was solemn, I am filled with hope by the collective voice of my generation rising up against gun violence, hopefully once and for all,” O’Neill said. “And for anyone who was not able to attend, I would want them to know that this group is strong, and our fight is not over.”
“For me, Saturday was the beginning of what I see as a long journey. My activism is just starting,” Schlecht said. “My experience was just one of many, but it was one that I know will affect my future forever.” The speakers and crowd pushed Schlecht to visualize all of the changes she wishes to see in her community.
Joined by the other student volunteers and coordinators, O’Neill and Schlecht encourage others to contact legislators and make their voices heard.
“As the youth of this movement has shown, our collective voice has power,” O’Neill said. “But we must use it.”
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