On March 14, thousands of students from Boston-area schools are expected to walk out of their classrooms and head to the state house. It’s part of a national action on the one-month anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida — but for these students, the scope of the movement has grown.
“Something that I and much of the organizing team is really focusing on is gun violence in Boston itself,” said Charlotte Lowell, a 17-year-old senior at Andover High School and a student organizer of March 14 Walkout for Action Massachusetts.
“We’re trying to localize our movement as much as we can, because, especially communities of color, have been calling for gun reform for years and have often been dismissed, turned away and even ignored,” she said.
On Wednesday, students will participate in a national walkout from 10 to 10:17 a.m. — one minute for each of the victims of the Parkland shooting. Then, these students near Boston will walk to the Massachusetts State House for advocacy training sessions and a legislative office visit with local representatives.
Massachusetts has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, but that doesn’t mean this movement is irrelevant here.
“Think it’s really important for folks to comprehend and recognize fact that although [this moment] may not seem relevant to them it’s very, very relevant to the people living in the United States, living in communities that face gun violence every day,” Lowell said. “We’re encouraging [people] to adopt a perspective unlike their own in order to address some serious and significant issues in our society.”
The March 14 event isn’t the end, either. It’s a “momentum builder,” Lowell said, for another event, March For Our Lives Boston on March 24. Lowell is also on the student leader committee for that event. She got involved after staging a sit-in at her school cafeteria the Friday following the Parkland shooting.
“Finally students are speaking out, demanding their voices be heard, that their voices be prioritized over guns,” she said. “The fact that this movement is shaped by students means that we will not rest until we feel safe.”
More than 52,000 people have responded on Facebook that they're interested in going to the March For Our Lives on the 24th. Lowell acknowledged that it's difficult to rely on Facebook for accurate numbers, but she said she heard that the Boston one is expected to be the second biggest in the country. For the March 14 walkout, she's heard from students at about 40 schools.
Boston City Councilors unanimously voted to support the March 24 event, and Councilor Lydia Edwards said it should be inspiring to the whole city to see these students take action.
“The issue really comes down to violence and guns, and our relationship with guns and policy is bigger than this school shooting,” she said. “We can’t be watching these amazing kids lead and not want to be a part of something. It should really hold us all accountable.”