Editor's note: Madison Buch is a student at John Marshall High School in Los Feliz, one of the many schools around the country that took part in the Wednesday Walkout against gun violence. In full support of the movement, we decided to let Madison tell the story of the morning's events in his own words.
On March 14, 2018, John Marshall High School students gathered to form a sea of red — not one of blood but one of love, hope and passion. At 10 a.m., hundreds of students dressed in red left their classes to unite in our Mike Haynes Stadium to express our support for gun control and to offer our strength to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students in Parkland, Florida.
What was initially a group of no more than 12 members of our Students Deserve club — a grassroots coalition dedicated to the rights of LAUSD students, which led Marshall’s movement — became a group of hundreds, so many that the flowers we had brought for a memorial were outnumbered by the people to receive them.
I and a few others helped to pass out carnations to as many students as possible; just earlier that morning, I and Grace Hamilton hung up posters at the Mound (a small grassy area in the middle of the campus) as a memorial for the Parkland victims, and after gathering at the field, we led students to the Mound to leave their flowers in solidarity. Tears were shed by many of my fellow classmates, but still the feelings of unity, strength and liberation were heavy in the air.
We put together this event in approximately three days, having students go in and out of the classroom of one of our history teachers, Nicolle Fefferman, to work. We made about 15 posters, made flyers, informed people of the event through social media, contacted news outlets and wrote speeches to give during our limited 17 minutes of protest. Maeve Mugglebee, Grace Hamilton, Elvia Perez and Lydia Chun, all seniors at John Marshall High School, spoke to the crowd gathered on the field, urging their classmates to vote and to not lose hold of this incredible momentum.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world,” Hamilton quoted Gandhi proudly. “Right now, we are that change and we are America’s future.”
Hamilton, having spoken about the issue of random searches in LAUSD schools many times before (being a member of Students Deserve herself), alluded to this problem as well and asserted that, despite these tragedies, we should not further criminalize students and treat educational institutions as prisons. While I know some of my classmates are ambivalent on this topic, the message was well received by our crowd.
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Today, although we were only one of thousands upon thousands of schools taking part in this national event, we contributed to the change we hope to see. We will no longer allow ourselves or others like us across the country to feel scared in an environment where there should only be education, friendship and, above all, safety. While we may be fearful of what is to come, and now have been forced to stay on our toes at all times, our passion and courage to speak out and fight for the safety of future generations will never die. The lives of American students will no longer be outweighed in importance by guns nor by the NRA money given to politicians to continue this horrific trend. Schools will not continue to be flooded by a red sea of their students’ blood.
We say #NeverAgain.