Fifty people left UU Fellowship of Harford County early on Saturday, March 24 for the rally in Washington, D.C. The experience seems to have resonated with the students who attended as well as the adults.
“Today (March 24) was very inspirational to me, and to others all across the world. This is something only we can solve, and today was a great stride towards success. Old sins cast long shadows but not in our case. We can use our past to brighten our future, only if we stand together and act as a whole body who wants to make a change.” So said 14 year old Aaron Knight, an 8th grade student at the Tome School in North East, after participating.
Mary Jane Price organized the trip. When asked what her motivation was for going, she responded, “TIME Magazine has called 1968 "the year that shaped a generation". I believe that 2018 may well be the year that shapes this generation. As someone who lived through the Viet Nam war protests, the Kent State killings, the assassinations of RFK and MLK - I will never forget those times, and they forever changed me. Now I have the honor, and obligation, to help our young people navigate our current political and social climate - and discover what is within themselves, and what they are capable of. My respect for the ways in which they are stepping forward is boundless.”
Valerie Greene, a dental hygienist in Bel Air, had difficulty reflecting on the day without tears coming to her eyes. She was so impressed that kids who had gone through this unbelievable trauma were so courageous and articulate expressing their goals for removing assault weapons, also known as weapons of war, from being sold to individuals. She went on to say that one time a man tried to ignite a bomb in his shoe on a plane and even though he was unsuccessful, 17 years later we are still removing our shoes in order to board a plane. However, assault weapons have killed hundreds and nothing has happened yet.
Liam Gallihue, a 15 year old from Havre de Grace has a plan as to how a change will happen. Although he isn’t old enough to vote, he plans to encourage his friends to talk to their parents about voting for representatives who do support the goals of: banning assault weapons, stopping the sale of high capacity magazines and closing loopholes in background checks. His mother, Suzi Gallihue, went on to say that, “If 800,000 people can stand in silence (during Emma Gonzalez’s speech), the world can be changed!”
“Witnessing first-hand the determination, courage and conviction of so many young people gives me hope for our nation's future. I believe this march will be noted in history books as a turning point for changes in gun laws -- on par with historical marches to end the Viet Nam War, racial segregation, and suppression of women's rights,” was Belcamp resident and former school administrator Olivia Spencer’s reaction to her experience on the 24th.
Lisa Nickerson, from Havre de Grace, attended with her college professor son Evan, and she was equally moved. “To see ‘our’ children in such pain broke my heart. Saturday’s rally gave me hope that adults who have turned a blind eye to the NRA’s corporate greed are now awake. And, that our youth will hold us all account.”
“From my perspective, the courage, strength, passion, and eloquence exhibited by these students is awe inspiring. Where most kids are afraid to get up in front of a classroom, these kids are standing up in front of the world” was the reflective take-away of Maureen North, former teacher and administrator from Bel Air.
Other UU Churches around the region also participated in DC or at local marches.
First UU Columbus sent a bus filled with 20 youth, 3 young adults and 13 adults to Washington DC for the March 24 March for Our Lives led by Rev. Eric Meter and Sylvia Howe. They enjoyed the hospitality of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax, VA. The youth raised funds for over half the cost of the trip through donations from the congregation. They held a bake sale and sign-making party for the entire church to participate.
First UU Columbus also had a great delegation of folks meet up with many other UUs from Central Ohio to attend the local march in Columbus, OH. The Washington DC youth rode overnight back from the march and reported that they learned a lot about gun safety and gun violence. They shared their reflections about their experiences on Sunday, April 8th, at First UU Columbus as the congregation marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
The photos in the sidebar are from the Columbus Trip.
The UUs for Social Justice in Washington DC also participate and took photos. Executive Director Pablo DeJesús said:
"March For Our Lives was an inspiring rally here in D.C., especially for the beauty of all ages living our UU values together, with the youth leading the way, and the diversity of those voices. Glimmers of a beloved community indeed! I heard talk about transforming the rally event into a movement against ALL gun violence, about making the rally moment into an inflection point in the debate. I heard youth talking about the power of their future votes, and a readiness to hold elected leaders accountable at the ballot. I heard a desire to change American culture from favoring gun safety locks over safe schools and safe communities. Fundamentally, I heard our youth in a collective declaration 'we are our changemakers' echoing the refrains of 'we are the ones we have been waiting for' and 'el pueblo unido, jamás serávencido.' As we UUs discern how to help the youth transform the Good Trouble (Rep.J.Lewis D-GA.5th) activism of these rallies into concrete advocacy, I urge us to embrace our denominational history on the gun issue, build upon that intellectual and moral foundation, and support sustained federal advocacy to help bring about the vision of this new generation of changemakers."
UUSJ took a number of photos of their participation in the March which are posted to their flicker account.
- UUs gather at All Souls Unitarian in Washington DC to make signs. Pictured is Community Minister Rev. Karen Scrivo, UUSJ Board Member for Goodloe MD, who is busy coordinating her people by cell.
- UUSJ Executive Director Pablo DeJesús is interviewed by the news (in the black hat and jacket), also pictured is Key UUSJ volunteer, Lavona Grow, to his right and UUC Arlington SJ/Youth staff, Elisabeth Geschiere, in the sunglasses