Asking the question, “When did these horrible tragedies start to become regular” and demanding gun reform, six students and former Vice President Joe Biden delivered impassioned remarks Saturday at Wilmington’s March for Our Lives.
Led and inspired by students, 1,000 teenagers, educators, parents, and young children marched from Howard High School to Rodney Square, to host a rally featuring politicos, musicians, artists and powerful remarks from student speakers. Hundreds of thousands of people took part in similar March for Our Lives rallies in Washington, DC and across the country on Saturday.
The entire event was planned by students, most of whom had never met before today. Many were the same young scholars who planned student walkouts at their schools on March 14th.
“Mainly we wanted to highlight student voices,” said Sofia Rose, 17, who is a senior at Dickinson High School. Nineteen students from 14 schools collaborated for weeks using a group chat — lining up student speakers, coordinating stage logistics for the rally, contacting the media, organizing sponsors, and drumming up interest over social media. “It’s been really exciting to connect with all these other students who are so passionate about ending gun violence,” said Rose.
Sixteen-year-old Cameron Smith was moved to action right after the shooting in Parkland, Florida. “After watching the rallies in Florida with the shooting survivors from Stoneman Douglas High School, and because of my three younger siblings, I just couldn’t sit there any longer and do nothing.”
The Sanford sophomore issued a challenge to legislators. “I can stand up here and ask why you didn’t do more to protect us after the Columbine or Sandy Hook shootings, why our generation is the one finally demanding change. But I can’t change the past. So, I ask you to change the future.”
US Sen. Tom Carper and Governor John Carney joined marchers as they proceeded up 12th street to Rodney Square. And a surprise appearance by former Vice President Joe Biden, energized the crowd. “You are going to change things. You’re ripping the Band-Aid off. You’re forcing people to look squarely in the eye what they don’t want to face.”
Biden offered stern remarks alluding to the influence of the gun lobby. “This is about money, this is about greed, this is about the manufacturers, and this is about you putting an end to it. Don’t stop. Don’t stop.”
Five students spoke at the rally, including 17-year-old Miles Evans, who called for an end to the mass shootings and gun violence in our nation. “Never again should students enter schools in fear of what’s to come. Never again should students have to mourn the lives of their friends and classmates. Never again should parents have to bury their own children. Never again, never again, never again.”
The St. George’s Technical High School senior said it has been students and adults across the state that have galvanized the March for Our Lives Delaware campaign. “Your passion is what’s driven us here. And it’s what driven this movement to this point.”
“It’s genuinely aggravating, that through all of our protests and out outcries, our representatives care more about their party lines and what defines them instead of the people that they are supposed to be speaking on behalf of. This is about life. This is about our lives.”
Evans invited everyone to join in their effort and work toward equity, compromise, collaboration, and empathy. “It is time for us to make a change we were destined to make. And those who aren’t willing to push for a more prosperous future will be missing out on the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful opportunity to be a part of the revolution.”
Vincent Zak Knight, a junior at St. Elizabeth’s High School, said he just wanted to touch somebody’s heart today. “Normally when something bad happens I tell other people to be strong and try to move on. This is not the same case. It’s not okay to move on with this type of thing. So, I say dwell in this. Do something to try to make this not happen as often for the next person or generation.
The youngest speaker was also one of the day’s organizers: 14-year-old John Dickinson Middle School student Vansh Kapoor. He managed to connect to the high schoolers planning the walkout and the march and offered to help. “When you have one passion, you’ll find a way to meet people with the same passion,” he said.
Speaking from the mainstage, Kapoor said he and his fellow students may be young, but they see things very clearly from their perspectives as students. “Because we haven’t had something bad happen to us, it doesn’t mean we can’t stand up for it.”
Cameron Smith explained that all of their team’s hard work — their late nights — was all worth it. And having Biden come “was the greatest surprise ever.” Joined by Salesianum junior Aidan O’Neill at the podium, Cameron Smith offered a rallying cry in her closing remarks. “To everyone who spoke, thank you for your bravery. And to those of you who listened, be brave in your voting. Be brave for us. Choose to protect us. Enough is enough!”
Kuddos to the 19 students who planned March for Our Lives Delaware:
|Darya Brel||Conrad HS|
|Tara Cain||Newark Charter HS|
|Mary Carr||Concord HS|
|Kayla Davis||Howard HS|
|Andrew Honeycutt||Dover HS|
|Robyn Howton||Mt. Pleasant HS|
|Muscan Kaur||Dover HS|
|Ruhi Khan||Newark Charter|
|Moriah Lewis||Howard HS|
|Wyatt Patterson||Caesar Rodney HS|
|Dounya Ramadan||Newark Charter HS|
|Sofia Rose||Dickinson HS|
|Hannah Rubin||Cab Calloway|
|Ellen Schlecht||Ursuline Academy|
|Cameron Smith||Sanford School|
|Aiden Smith||P.S. duPont Middle School|
|Laura Sturgeon||Concord HS|
|Lucy Zuo||Charter School of Wilmington|