Photo Essay: March for Our Lives, LA
Interviews have been edited for clarity
Through the wave of protests since Trump took office nothing has inspired young people to take the streets quite like gun violence. It makes sense – it’s a universal issue that threatens all students safety across socioeconomic lines. It’s enough to keep anyone up at night.
It’s Samantha’s first march – she’s 8 and overwhelmed and when I asked why she was marching she shyly said, “to stop gun violence.”
Thousands of young people took to the streets on Saturday, many for the first time, because it’s a tangible issue for them. More importantly it’s because the call to action was from kids their age.
“I got involved because I was tired of feeling useless. I wanted to prove that kids could make a difference. I was finally seeing some kids who could make a difference and I wanted to join that. I’ve always been very passionate about a lot of issues but I’ve never taken the time to stand up for them and hearing that I can have a voice has really changed that for me.” – Cat Lake, 14
We’ve fallen into a cycle of sending thoughts and prayers, interviewing some parents, and moving on. We ignore shootings all together if they happened in lower income areas. The Parkland kids “called B.S.”
“I joined because I saw what was happening in Parkland and I thought it was both surreal and inspiring. There were these kids standing up for what they believe in and making a change in their community and society which meant a lot to me. It really inspired me and I felt like I needed to get involved for my peers and for the generations younger than me.” – Carly Dutcher, 15
Yes, black and brown and marginalized students statistically experience a more regular threat. Yes, the world didn’t really pay attention until the Parkland kids took the mic. And yes, it’s problematic that it had to be kids from an affluent suburb to gain national attention.
When confronted with this, they brought in the marginalized groups who have been fighting for years. They are using their privilege to amplify an issue that threatens everyone in America and to raise voices that have been ignored.
“I’ve always tried to be politically active and engaged in civic duties but you do feel useless as a kid. This movement is so important because it makes us feel like we’re not useless as young people and we’re the ones who actually need to make the change – this has made a difference for a lot of young people” – Olivia Dutcher, 17
Most importantly, they are setting an example for their generation. They’re showing that if you get the mic, make sure you share it. They’re inspiring kids across the country to get up and make a change. They’re proving that you aren’t too young to change the world, and it doesn’t matter if you’re taken seriously.
“I feel like people are starting to know we have a voice and that we need to start using it.” – Rhoman Keitzman, 14
When asked if they thought their generation would be the ones to change things every kid I talked to said the same thing – ”definitely.”
“I think we’re going to work hard to stop it since we’re aware – a lot of people don’t think that kids are as smart as we are” – Mercy Richter, 12
“Our generation will definitely be the ones to make a difference – if you see what’s happening now it’s crazy it’s all brought about by kids our age – it’s our generation that’s making change.” – Cat Lake, 14
Molly Adams is an LA-based photographer documenting stories from Afghanistan to Standing Rock to queer clubs. You can find her on Instagram.