Let their stories be told

By: The Towerlight Editorial Board 

Hundreds of thousands of protesters attended the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., on March 24 to advocate for gun reform.

Activists denounced the NRA and condemned politicians who receive money from the organization. Marchers, including several survivors of the Feb. 14, shooting that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, demanded that such violence #NeverAgain happen.

Not even a week before the march, a male student at Great Mills High School opened fire on his fellow students. The gunman died after being confronted by an armed school resource officer, but not before shooting and injuring two students. One of those injured students, 16-year-old Jaelynn Willey, died on March 22. Willey was a competitive swimmer and had seven younger siblings, according to BuzzFeed News.

The #NeverAgain movement has reignited the push for gun control and elevated that fight to a level of visibility that we have yet to see in a while – and arguably, ever. What these young people have done is not just remarkable in the scope of gun reform; it’s a lesson in democracy and a message of hope for the upcoming generation of voters.

The #NeverAgain movement leaders are deserving of all the praise coming to them. But so are the black and brown activists who have and continue to fight every day to create a world where #BlackLivesMatter.

11-year-old Naomi Wadler called on march attendees and #NeverAgain movement supporters as a whole to fight for the black lives who aren’t given as much attention as their white counterparts.

“I am here today to acknowledge and represent the African American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper…. For far too long, these names, these black girls and women have been just numbers,” Wadler said. “I’m here to say ‘never again’ for those girls too.”

David Hogg, a survivor of the MSD shooting and one of the leaders of the #NeverAgain movement, spoke at a D.C. high school the day before the march where he addressed how some media organizations provide biased coverage or no coverage at all when the victims of violence are people of color.

“Many of these [non-white] communities are disproportionately affected by gun violence, but they don’t get the same share of media attention that we do,” he said.

As journalists, we’re told our job is “to give a voice to the voiceless.” But that’s just flat out wrong. People of color and other marginalized people have strong voices of their own – they’re just not being listened to.

There are many news organizations who are putting in the work to truly provide fair and balanced coverage, particularly of those marginalized voices. But we would be remiss to think that’s the case across the board.

Courtlin Arrington was an Alabama high school senior who had planned to go to nursing school before being fatally shot on March 7. She deserves to have her story told.

Stephon Clark was an unarmed father of two who was shot and killed by police in his own backyard on March 18. He deserves to have his story told.

Phylicia Mitchell, an Ohio transwoman who worked as a hair stylist, was killed on Feb. 23. She deserves to have her story told.

And not just told, but learned from to spark the same kind of momentous change for people of color who are the victims of gun violence and other forms of violence as the victims of the MSD shooting have sparked across the nation.

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