Responding to criticism that outrage over the deaths of young people erupts only when the victims are white or well-to-do, the organizers of Saturday’s "March for Our Lives" rally in Washington, D.C., shared the spotlight.
Their lineup included speakers not just from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where the slaughter of 17 students inspired the marches, but also 19-year-old Trevon Bosley of Chicago, there for his slain brother and young people across the country. And Edna Chavez, 17, of South Los Angeles, whose brother was also killed, and 11-year-old Naomi Wadler from Alexandria, Virginia, standing for African-American girls and women who are disproportionately affected by violence.
“I’m here to speak on behalf of Chicago’s youth who are surrounded and affected by gun violence every day,” Bosley said. “I’m here to speak for those youth who fear they may be shot while going to the gas station, the movies, the bus stop, to church or even to and from school. I’m here to speak for those Chicago youth who feel their voices have been silenced for far too long.”
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Most important, Bosley said, he was speaking for his brother, Terrell Bosley, shot and killed outside of a church in April 2006.
He said that it was time to stop judging communities differently based on what they look like, and he accused President Donald Trump of capitalizing on Chicago’s violence rather than sending the funds to combat it.
“It’s time for the nation to realize gun violence is more than just a Chicago problem or Parkland problem but an America problem,” he said.
Chavez, a senior at Manuel Arts High School and a youth leader in an community coalition, said she had learned to duck from bullets before she learned how to read. But if she was a survivor, her brother, Ricardo, was not. He died.
“It was a day like any other, sunset going down in South Central,” she said. “You hear pops thinking they’re fireworks. They were not pops. You see the melanin on your brother’s skin turn grey. Ricardo was his name. Can you all say it with me?”
And the group obliged, chanting his name.
Wadler said she and a classmate had organized a walkout at her elementary school as part of the national protests on March 14. They added a minute to the 17 minutes recognized elsewhere to honor Courtlin Arrington, a teenager who was shot to death at her school in Birmingham, Alabama, after the Parkland shootings.
“I am here today to acknowledge and represent the African American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper,” Wadler said. “These stores don’t lead on the evening news.”
Jaclyn Corin, one of the student organizers, said that the students of Parkland needed an alliance with other communities to spread their message. She acknowledged that her community had gotten the spotlight denied other cities.
“We openly recognize that we are privileged individuals and would not have received as much attention if it weren’t for the affluence of our city,” she said. “Because of that however we share the stage today and forever with those who have always stared down the barrel of gun.”
Corin led the speaker who came after her onto the stage: Martin Luther King Jr.’s granddaughter, Yolanda Renee King. King said that her grandfather had had a dream that his four children would be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
“I have a dream that enough is enough,” she said. “And that this should be a gun-free world. Period.”