I went to the March for Our Lives Tampa Bay

“No more silence, end gun violence!”

Millions of people across the United States united as one to say “Never again” after a devastating mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Students, teachers, parents, grandparents, and neighbors joined together on March 26th, 2018 for the March for Our Lives Tampa Bay. There were an estimated 15,000 people who attended in the Tampa area alone, and I was one of them. 

“I brought my kids here because they expressed the desire to come and fight for what they believe in. They are frightened and tired of doing lockdown drills in their kindergarten classroom.” A concerned yet determined mom I spoke with at the march was willing o express her motives for attending. “I raised my kids to develop their own opinions. This is truly their life that they are fighting for.” She explains.

“We as students refuse to hear ‘this is not the time to talk about gun violence, the time is now!” -Susana Matta Valdivieso

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Young yet determined! I spoke with these young girls who chose to come to the March for Our LIves, Tampa Bay. “We just want everyone to be safe and happy.” Says one of the young girls

Before we marched, there was a rally with several guest speakers that spoke in front of an enthusiastic and sympathetic crowd.

One student who was present at the Parkland shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, Susana Matta Valdivieso, gave a powerful speech about her experience during the massacre. “We as students refuse to hear ‘this is not the time to talk about gun violence, the time is now!” After every sincere and moving remark, the crowd grew louder, more committed, and outrageously enthusiastic.. “We, as high-school students, are tired of being told that our voices do not matter. Right now, we are using our voices, and we are using them loudly.”

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Keeping it short and to the point- this sign was spotted during the rally before the march.

While taking photos, I ran into two high school seniors from the Tampa area who were there with a group of kids from their school. “I am personally marching because I am learning to form my own opinion. I was told by people that I was too young to understand topics such as this one. But, what I do understand is, children are being killed. I shouldn’t have to say anymore. That, right there, is a good enough reason.” One of the girls told me

After seeing the number of teenagers my age who attended this march, and knowing they were feeling the same way as I was, I felt so powerful.

“I want you to recognize that your voice is going to change this debate. Your voice is going to change this city. Your voice is going to change this country.”-Mayor Bob Buckhorn

 

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Students’ voices are louder than ever. “We are the leaders we’ve been waiting for” is a truthful statement for all students who have been trying to make a change.

I also had the privilege to hear several politicians’ remarks on the matter, as they marched alongside us. Mayor of Tampa, Bob Buckhorn, explained that he was not there to speak for us, but to offer support and to listen to the voices of the people. “I want you to recognize that your voice is going to change this debate. Your voice is going to change this city. Your voice is going to change this country.” He states.

Even though I have parents who’ve always encouraged me to be strong-willed and opinionated, I have been told that my voice is smaller than those who are older than myself. Every adult there who I spoke to, or who spoke in front of everyone, made it very clear that those remarks are not true. High school students, along with all of the children speaking out, are finding their voices.

We are the future, and the future is now.

 

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March for Our Lives, Tampa Bay, was one of the most unforgettable experiences for everyone involved.

Interested in becoming more politically active or attending future protests?

Visit the March for our Lives page here.

Or you can contact your nearby representative by entering your zip code and finding out who is near you by clicking here. 

If you are 18 or older, get out there and vote! Midterm elections are coming up, and YOU can make a difference. If you are 16, become pre-registered to vote for when you turn 18!

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