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For my June 2018 cover story in American School Board Journal, I took portraits of students who came to Washington, D.C., for the March for Our Lives protest. Hundreds of thousands took part in the protest on Pennsylvania Avenue in the wake of the shooting that left 17 dead at Florida's Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine's Day. To read the full story, click on the cover image; to see more photos from the event, go here.
Cover story and photos from the March for Our Lives in June 2018 issue of American School Board Journal.
The 9th grader from South Lakes High School in Fairfax County, Va., on why she was protesting: "When you’re locked in a closet in the back of your classroom in the pitch black dark, you start to think this is how it could end. Every time a kid has his hood up in the hallway and every time you hear a door close a little bit too loud you shouldn’t be scared for your life. That’s not normal. That’s not OK and it needs to change.”
The senior at Monticello High School in Charlottesville, Va., marched with her mother: “After all the other shootings, from Columbine to Sandy Hook, there was no action taken. In Sandy Hook, elementary schoolers could not stand up for what happened because they were too young. [Stoneman Douglas] didn’t just happen in Florida. All of us were affected by it. When 17 people, almost all of them teenagers, were shot, it felt like it was us. We’re all trying to get good grades, go to college, live our lives as teenagers. Now we can’t even go to school and focus on learning any more. We have to fight back. There’s nothing else we can do.”
Aldo Fernandes, 9th grader in Hilton, Mass. (left): “I was affected by gun violence. One of my family members died to guns. We’re getting robbed of family, of little children, and it shouldn’t happen. Hopefully it gets through to people that we need to take guns off the streets and keep them away from our schools.” Jayden Santos, 8th grader from Boston: (center): “I just hope some people will look around and take the time to think about this, come together, and, hopefully, make a change.” Jaydon Rodriguez; 9th grader from Boston (right): “I’m here to show people that even youth can make a difference, because one day it’s our generation that will be in charge. It’s time to stand up and show people we are capable of doing just as much as adults are to stop this.”
The 7th grader from Presidio Middle School in San Francisco traveled cross country for the march: "I want to be part of a bigger movement, not just part of things in San Francisco. We have to keep pushing. People are going to slow down or stop, but we can’t do that. I can’t vote yet, but I will someday. And I will keep protesting and making people aware. It’s just too important."
The University of Michigan freshman held up her sign for the entire rally: “I think it’s a basic right for people not to be afraid of getting shot at school. But one of the first things we had to do at my (university) orientation was go through gun safety procedures, to learn what to do if a shooter comes to the school. That shook me up. I’m supposed to be getting excited about going to school and one of the first things I’m told is how to fight an active shooter, how to hide and run form an active shooter? That’s upsetting.”
The 9th grader moved from moved from Albuquerque, N.M., to Vienna, Va. in December 2017: "I think it’s ridiculous how unsafe everyone feels. These things have happened for so many years that it’s becoming ‘normal’ in society. But I think Parkland started something. We are angry about it now.”
The 8th grader from Greenwich, Conn., marched with her sister, Anna: “I think it’s just really important that we stand together united against this. Some people can’t understand that guns are less important than people getting killed. If it takes this much, if it takes this many lives, then it shouldn’t be something everyone is fighting over. We’ve got to stop fighting.”
The 12th grader from Atkins High School in Winston-Salem, N.C., on why students will lead change: “When the kids get mad enough to mobilize that’s when change starts to happen. That’s what happened in the 1960s. It got us out of Vietnam. It led to what happened with civil rights. It was kids getting mad enough to be the change for what they wanted to see.”