Just days after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which killed 17 people, students-turned-activists echoed the words “never again” and “not one more,” pushing lawmakers for increased gun control and better school safety.
Many of the Parkland students, who have primarily taken to social media to champion these issues, have met with President Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., among others to demand action.
One shooting survivor Cameron Kasky, a junior at the high school, wrote an op-ed about his experience, demanding Congress to take action.
Other Parkland shooting survivors have organized events.
In addition to a 17-minute National School Walkout on March 14, which will honor those killed in the massacre and protest gun violence, student activists are planning a march in Washington, D.C. called a “March for Our Lives.”
Ahead of the event, here’s what you need to know.
When is March for Our Lives?
The march is slated to take place on Saturday, March 24, around 12 p.m., organizers said.
Where is it?
The primary march will take place in Washington, D.C. on Pennsylvania Avenue between 3rd and 12th street NW, according to the March for Our Lives website.
Initially, organizers wanted to hold the event on the National Mall, but were forced to choose another location because their request conflicted with a film crew’s permit, the Washington Post reported.
Many other cities -- such as Portland, Oregon; Boise, Idaho; Philadelphia, New York City, San Francisco, Dallas and Chicago, among hundreds of other places -- are holding “sister marches.”
To see if your city is holding a march, you can check here.
Why are the marches being organized?
An opportunity for unity
“This is such a unifying experience, it’s truly nonpartisan” said Ellie Boan, 19, a freshman at the University of South Carolina. She plans to attend a sister march in Columbia on March 24.
“Not everyone necessarily agrees how [gun reform] should happen. But different viewpoints are coming together and all agree that no American child should feel unsafe in school,” she said.
For Boan, who has been working with local high schools and student organizations on her campus to help organize the event, the shooting itself “doesn’t get anymore close to home.”
Boan is originally from Parkland, Fla. While she didn’t attend Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, her older brother did. On top of that, her parents’ home is “just five minutes away from the school” where the Valentine's Day mass shooting unfolded.
“I was on the phone with my mom during the shooting,” she said, adding that helicopters heading toward the high school could be heard in the call's background.
“[Parkland] was the last place in America I ever expected for this to happen,” she said. Once known for its picturesque golf courses and safety, Boan added, the city will now be remembered as the site of one of the “biggest mass shootings in U.S. history.”
Shortly after the suspected shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was identified, Boan had a chilling realization: She knew him, albeit not well.
“His name sounded familiar, even though I didn’t want it to," she said.
At that moment, Boan realized that she and he had attended the same middle school.
“He even had a presence back then,” she said.
Coming to that realization was the “most difficult thing to deal with," Boan said. "I knew someone who was capable to inflict that kind of damage."
But Boan has since channeled her emotions -- which have ranged from sadness to fear to anger -- into activism.
“I wanted to do something even though I couldn’t be there [Parkland],” she said.
Participating in the march later this month is the “most effective way to process what I was going through,” she added. “Students are directly telling legislators what they want to be done. I hope that continues.”
Adults are listening
Perry Bradley, founder and executive director of Building Better Communities, a community outreach organization in South Carolina, is helping organize the sister march in Columbia that will end on the steps of the city’s statehouse.
Students, local lawmakers and state representatives are slated to speak at the event.
“Parkland opened our eyes,” Bradley told Fox News. “Adults are embracing what kids have to say [about gun reform].”
A bipartisan cause
“I think that we have finally reached a breaking point in America,” 21-year-old Antwon Stephens, who plans to participate in a sister march in Atlanta, told Fox News. “Both sides are tired of the answer being nothing.”
Stephens, who said he comes from a family who “firmly believes in the Second Amendment,” echoed Boan -- he also thinks the March for Our Lives movement presents an opportunity for unity, adding that both sides of the political aisle should work in a “non-partisan way” to understand “why things like this keep happening.”
“I think it is going to take a whole lot of elbow grease to keep this movement going strong,” he said. “But this movement is most powerful because it’s led by students.”
For family and the future
“I was numb. I was in shock for three days after I heard about the shooting,” said Jennia Taylor, a senior at Spelman College who also plans to attend a sister march in Atlanta.
Hailing from Parkland, Florida, the shooting greatly impacted Taylor not only because it occured in her hometown, but also because the 21-year-old is a 2014 graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, she told Fox News.
“[Stoneman Douglas] is a big family; it was like hearing that someone invaded your home,” Taylor said, who added that she first found out about the massacre through her family’s group chat.
“I lived there in high school,” she said. “I saw my teachers and coaches more than I saw my parents.”
The day of the shooting, hearing about students and faculty who had been injured or killed affected Taylor the most, she said. It was also unnerving, she added, because Taylor’s younger cousin is a freshman at the school.
She was also worried for her former classmates as well, as many of them have younger siblings or family members who are current students at the high school, she said.
“We all kind of know each other, she said. “It’s so intertwined, it’s kind of crazy.”
Taylor’s heart sank when she heard that Aaron Feis, a beloved football coach at Stoneman Douglas, had been shot and killed shielding students from a rain of bullets.
Taylor’s two brothers, also graduates of Stoneman Douglas, played football at the school and her family was well acquainted with Feis. As a result, the loss hit her hard.
“It’s really hard for my family knowing him, and knowing his family,” she said.
As for her participation in the March for Our Lives, Taylor said she’s excited to “see people from all walks of life who have been affected by gun violence come together and march for a purpose,” she said. “[They’re] putting opinions aside to make sure we have a safe community and safe society.”
“I’m going to grow up and have kids. I don’t want to fear that every time they leave they’re going to get shot,” she said. “After it happened in my hometown, I realized that it’s time to take action.”
How many people are slated to attend?
The National Park Service told the Washington Post that at least 500,000 people are expected to attend the march in D.C. alone.
How is the event funded -- and who’s supporting it?
Celebrities such as George and Amal Clooney and Oprah donated $500,000 to the event, as have Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, Deadline reported.
Jack Dorsey, the co-founder and CEO of Twitter, announced on March 9 that he also donated $500,000 to March for Our Lives.
"I'm so inspired by all the conversations the Stoneman Douglas students are leading!" he tweeted.
Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit that advocates for stronger gun control, and Giffords, an anti-gun violence group that was started by former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, among other national organizations, are also working with march organizers -- either through donations or planning and logistics.
“Students are making history and demanding that our elected officials protect them. Everytown is proud to help them make their voices heard on March 24, and we look forward to more Americans following their lead to forge meaningful change to our country’s gun laws,” John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown, said in a statement after the organization announced its $2.5 million grant to support sister marches around the country.
The ride-hailing company Lyft also announced that it will offer free rides to Stoneman Douglas students participating in the march.
Is it political?
The event is not a political one, organizers claim.
“School safety is not a political issue,” a mission statement on the organization’s website reads. “There cannot be two sides to doing everything in our power to ensure the lives and futures of children who are at risk of dying when they should be learning, playing, and growing.”
While the activists “support the right of law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms, as set forth in the United States Constitution,” they also have a list of demands, urging members of Congress to pass laws to end the sale of high-capacity magazines, improve background checks and more safety measures.