By Cheryl Coleman
A nationwide protest is planned for Wednesday, March 14th that is calling for students, educators, school leaders, staff, and parents to walk out of their schools in support of safe schools for students and in remembrance of the 17 lives that were tragically lost on February 14th at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. According to the Women’s March Youth EMPOWER, the organizers of the March 14th demonstration, more 185,000 students are expected to participate in the walkout. According to the Washington Post, students without authorization from school officials to participate will be marked with an unexcused absence and their grades could be affected. However, local counties like Arlington and Montgomery are willingly participating in the day and will allow students to take part in the protest with no punishment.
I strongly feel schools should come up with a balance so that the students can show their concern for school shootings and support for safe schools. If my daughter decides to participate in the protest I will support her. It’s her right and she has a voice. I know these are turbulent times in our society right now. You can blame it on the left or the right if you want, but for me, when I take a microscopic look at how current events affect me and my family, I have to focus on what’s best for us. And I believe, as long as my child has the ability to be a part of the change she wants to see in the world, she absolutely should. As a matter of fact, I will help her lead the charge.
As a Black woman and during Women’s History Month, I want to send the message to my daughter to channel her inner - Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Angela Davis, Kamala Harris and the countless other Black and brown women who have stood boldly against what they did not believe in. I want my daughter to know that she has that tenacity and grit to do the same thing and if participating, either collectively or alone, in solidarity with the thousands of other students who will be doing the same thing across the country is how she is choosing to take her bold stance, then I say Amen! Stand with pride and strength!
As I listen to the many children cry out with concern about violence in schools, it breaks my heart. I believe children and educators should only be worried about teaching and learning while in school. They should feel safe if they are outside playing at recess or walking to and from school. They shouldn’t be afraid or think that a gunman could be near or on school property. In my opinion, policy makers are not moving quick enough to come up with laws that will stop senseless killings; however, I do applaud the stores that are starting to make changes in their stores. For example, the Chief Executive from the Dicks Sporting Goods was very touched after hearing the children talking about the shooting he decided to take the assault rifles out of all stores. Walmart also announced they would not sell any guns to anyone under 21 years of age and would be taking anything that resembled an assault style rifle off the shelves including toy guns.
If your child is going to be a part of the protest on March 14th and you are able walking along with them or stand beside them, I encourage you to do so because at the end of the day, you want these shooting to stop just as much as they do.