Students take aim at gun laws, next election
Charlie Goodman looked at the massive crowd around him, the largest youth-led protest in Washington since the Vietnam War era. He listened to people speak about toughening gun laws. They included some of his peers at the Florida high school who’ve sparked this movement, as well as the 9-year-old granddaughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King.
When she spoke, he was moved to tears.
“This is truly a revolution,” said Goodman, a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people were gunned down last month. “We can really change the world.”
The marches unified hundreds of thousands of people in cities across the country and have galvanized this movement, he and others say. Now they are vowing to get young voters registered and send a message in upcoming elections.
“We have a lot of people who are inspired,” said Kobey Lofton, a student from Chicago’s South Side who also traveled overnight to Washington on Friday with 12 busloads of fellow students and adults.
Before the march, Lofton and his fellow Peace Warriors at North Lawndale College Prep High School had met with the Florida students – young people from different worlds, but both impacted by gun violence.
Now they and other students across the country are planning voter registration drives through the fall. Voter registration groups, including Rock the Vote, Voto Latino and HeadCount, a nonpartisan group that usually focuses on registering people at concerts and music festivals, also helped mobilize teams at Saturday’s marches in 30 U.S. cities and have created a registration tool kit for high-school students.
“I’ve never felt the energy that I felt,” HeadCount spokesman Aaron Ghitelman said of the registration training that preceded the march in Washington. In a matter of hours, he said the groups registered nearly 5,000 people, many of them millennials.