On March 24, thousands of people will take to the streets in cities around the country to advocate for changes they hope will make gun violence a less common occurrence. Known as March for Our Lives, the demonstrations are part of a movement that has been gained momentum since the tragic mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, last month.
Perhaps the reason that the public has been so galvanized around these issues in recent weeks is the passion and moral authority of the students and teenagers who are leading the charge of the grassroots movement. In addition to the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, there are young people stepping up to take on leadership roles everywhere. In Los Angeles, that includes 16-year-old Olivia Spaulding.
Spaulding is a sophomore at Palos Verdes High School and hopes to study public health or international relations when she gets to college in a couple of years, but for now, she’s dedicating her time to doing what she can to stop gun violence, starting with acting as a student organizer for March for Our Lives Los Angeles. We were able to talk with her about how she became involved in the movement and what she hopes happens next.
What inspired you to become involved with the March for Our Lives project?
Gun violence has always been an issue that deeply resonates with me. When I first saw that this massacre happened I was heartbroken. But I was also so inspired by the survivors and their call to action. I knew instantly that I had to get involved. I reached out to March for Our Lives and they set me up with an amazing group of people that I am now working with to put on this event.
Can you tell us a bit more about the leadership and goals of March for Our Lives?
This is a student-led movement organized by young local and state-wide activists. We are also fortunate to have the support of Women’s March L.A. Foundation, Everytown, and other incredible social justice organizations. The goal of the movement is simple: Enact common sense gun laws at the state and federal level now. We are calling the bluff of politicians who offer “thoughts and prayers,” but push the conversation about guns to another day by promising it will happen eventually. As Parkland student Emma Gonzales said, “We call B.S.” Each day that goes by without change there is another death. The demonstration will be a platform to amplify this message and harden the nation’s resolve to get legislation passed.
What has participating in this kind of activism meant to you?
It gives me hope. Organizing something this large and historic is a daunting task, but I have a lot of help and support from amazing students and community leaders. I guess it has made me more confident that a few people can have a nationwide impact if they are vocal and committed enough. Students are finally realizing that change is long overdue and it inspires me to keep fighting even after this march is over.
When it comes to this weekend’s event, what should people expect?
Although this is a tragic subject, everyone should know that this movement is about hope and empowerment. The survivors of mass shootings are incredibly resilient. This day will be focused on healing and solutions to end gun violence. Charlie Puth will perform for us, Olivia Wilde is speaking, and we have many more musicians, actors, and other public figures coming to lend their voices to the cause.
March for Our Lives Los Angeles takes place Saturday, March 24, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., meeting at 603 S. Spring St, downtown.
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