Road to Change Summer Bus Tour
Last Stop: Newtown, Connecticut
Today, as students on the March For Our Lives: Road To Change summer bus tour return home to go back to school, March For Our Lives announced that it will continue its tour on key dates leading up to election day. Starting in September, March For Our Lives will travel to college campuses, districts where young people can make an impact in the election, and communities that are deeply affected by gun violence. The tour dates will be announced in the coming weeks. The students will also launch Mayors For Our Lives, an initiative partnering with mayors across America to give the opportunity for young people to register to vote in their schools. On August 12th, students from the March For Our Lives wrapped up their Road To Change summer bus tour in Newtown, Connecticut for its final stop organized by Sandy Hook Promise. The tour spanned 100+ visits in 24 states over 60 days. The students skipped their normal summer plans in order to travel the country, hear from partners and allies about the issues facing their communities, and discuss a shared vision for the future. They hosted over 35 town halls in 24 different states, meeting over 100,000 people at their events, and registering tens of thousands of voters in person, online, and through their revolutionary QR-code branded merchandise. They also visited over eighty communities where they met with dozens of gun-violence-prevention and other community groups. Thousands of t-shirts were sold at these events, whose unique QR code American flag design allowed people to register to vote online in minutes. The proceeds from these sales are going to the more than $100,000 in donations that March For Our Lives is giving to local gun violence prevention organizations and community programs to help them continue the fight against gun violence. Some of the beneficiaries include: LIFE Camp (NYC), Chicago Strong (Chicago), Aim4Peace (Kansas City), Orange Revolution (Houston), East Oakland Youth Development Center (Oakland), Hartford Communities That Care (Hartford), One Pulse (Orlando), St. Elmo Village (Los Angeles), Austin Justice Coalition (Austin), Standing Rock Youth (Standing Rock), StudentsMarch.org (Dallas), Live Free (Oakland), Save Our Streets (Bronx) and others. “I’m heading back to school Wednesday more inspired than ever,” said Jaclyn Corin, March For Our Lives Co-Founder and senior class president at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. “It has been incredible to travel to state after state, hearing from young people who are empowered and driven to move our country forward. My generation is standing up to the NRA, and we’ll be the ones who make common sense gun reforms a reality. We were awed by the energy in cities, towns and rural areas, and know that the energy we experienced will be turned into action in November. As young people go back to school, register for classes, or head to work, we encourage them to register to vote so that their voices are heard.” Since launching their bus tour on June 15 in Chicago, participants have stood up to their critics head-on – engaging in civil discourse, changing people’s opinions, and most importantly, registering young people to vote at every stop. Over the course of the 60-day tour, the students have called for common-sense reforms that could save the lives of more than 3,000 young people each year, including: implementing universal, comprehensive background checks; creating a searchable database for gun owners; funding the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence so that reform policies are backed up by data; and banning high-capacity magazines and semi-automatic assault rifles. A recent report from Pew Research found statehouses passed at least 50 laws to keep communities safer since the Parkland students engaged on the national level, including Florida, Ohio, Georgia, and Maryland. Furthermore, data released by TargetSmart suggests youth voter registration has increased dramatically since the February 14th shooting in Parkland, FL, where states like Pennsylvania, Florida, and Virginia have seen between 8 and 16 percent increases in registrations. Notable aspects of this summer’s Road To Change tour include:
· In Chicago, as the students kicked off the tour on The South Side, they sang “Amazing Grace” with fellow survivors of gun violence, Chicago Public School students, Jennifer Hudson, Chance The Rapper, and others. The powerful kickoff was detailed in The Chicago Tribune.
· In Bismarck, ND, the Mayor– who does not agree with the students – attended the protest held outside their Road To Change event, but later came inside to hear what March For Our Lives had to say. Afterwards, the Bismarck Tribune wrote: “The Parkland students and Bakken are right to encourage dialogue. A civil conservation is the best way to bring about change. It will take time, but the results will benefit everyone.”
· In Dallas, TX, David Hogg and Matt Deitsch spoke with members of Open Carry Texas, an armed pro-gun group, registered them to vote, and found common ground on policies like expanding universal background checks, limiting interstate gun trafficking, safe storage, and digitizing ATF records.
· In Atlanta, the students met with the King family to discuss the history of gun violence and the need to lead the right way. Martin Luther King III remarked that he "hasn't seen a movement like this since 1963," and he can now finally "see change on the horizon." You can read more in The Washington Times.
· In Roswell, GA, hundreds waited in the rain and watched in overflow outside of the Eagles Nest Church. A speaker had to be brought outside so they could follow along with the panel. In attendance was Lucy McBath, who was inspired by the advocacy of the March for Our Lives students and decided to run for office. You can read more about the event in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
· In Charleston, SC, students met with victims of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting. During their round table with the victims they emphasized working together to help solve this issue. As seen on Twitter, the students also met with a local student group to advance gun reforms and youth engagement in all communities.
· In Fairfax, VA, the students joined allied groups to march on the NRA’s headquarters, and mark the 18th birthday of Joaquin Oliver, who they lost in Parkland February 14. Watch highlights from The March on The NRA on CBS News.
· In Newtown, CT, the students brought the tour to a close with a powerful community event with the Newtown community, an important reminder that we must do everything we can to stop gun violence.
The March For Our Lives: Road to Change Bus Tour followed the nearly 800 March For Our Lives events held across the country on March 24. Millions of Americans joined marches in their communities, and many more took action by calling their representatives and demanding change. The students partnered with Rock the Vote, Headcount, NAACP and Mi Familia Vota. These organizations supported the March For Our Lives’ digital and on-the-ground voter registration work. The Town Hall Project supported the students’ efforts to hold public town halls in various communities across America. As March For Our Lives prepares to embark on the next phase of the Road To Change tour more details and information will be released in the coming weeks on their website: www.marchforourlives.com/
photos by Debbie Rehr