School Climate & Safety

A New Generation of Youth Activists Asks a Familiar Question: How Many More Students Must Die?

By Williamena Kwapo — June 11, 2022 | Corrected: June 13, 2022 3 min read
Jecholiah Marriott, 17, a junior at Cass Technical High School, leads the March for Our Lives rally through the streets of downtown Detroit, Mich. on June 11, 2022. The rally was to protest the spike in gun violence, especially in schools across the country.
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Corrected: A photo caption has been updated to correct Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s title.

Detroit

Jecholiah Marriott, 17, stood up and tearfully addressed a large crowd of teachers, students, and local elected officials.

“I should not walk into school stressed that I’m going to be another name. That I won’t get to walk with the rest of my class because I died,” she said at the March for Our Lives rally held here June 11—one of hundreds planned in response to a spate of mass shootings.

“How many March for Our Lives are we going to have ‘til you take me seriously?” asked Marriott.

The student-led organization formed in 2018 after a gunman took the lives of 17 people at Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Fla. Weeks after the shooting, the organization brought together thousands of students across the country to lead a march against gun violence.

Four years later, the group is marching once again with the same goal: to invoke change in gun legislation and put an end to gun violence.

Jecholiah was only 12 and in the 7th grade when the Parkland bloodshed happened. She remembers having a strong desire to act when she heard about Parkland, but was told she was too young to march out of school like other students had planned.

Since then, there has been no end to mass shootings—and despite the refrain of “Never Again” that accompanied the 2018 March for Our Lives, they’ve continued to happen in schools, too.

How many March for Our Lives are we going to have 'til you take me seriously?

There have been 119 school shootings since 2018, when Education Week began tracking such incidents. There have been 27 school shootings this year, putting it on track to outpace last year, when there were 34—the highest number since the news organization started keeping count.

Jecholiah knows the grim statistics. Now a junior at Cass Technical High School, she found herself heavily involved in planning a memorial for the victims of the shooting at Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich., last November.

In May, after a gunman took the lives of 21 people at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, she and a group of fellow high school and college students spearheaded the March for Our Lives rally here that brought together hundreds of people.

“Not another name, not another school, and not another person,” she said.

Hafiza Khalique, a junior at Cass Technical High School, who also helped lead the rally, said that four years ago, her sister was involved in organizing the very first March for Our Lives rally in Detroit.

I was also very heartbroken after what happened in Parkland,” she said. “And here we are four years later, and the same thing is happening again.”

For some activists, a grim reunion in the District of Columbia

More than 300 local March for Our Lives events were scheduled for June 11, including one in the District of Columbia that drew a crowd of thousands. For some of its leaders, it was a bitter reunion.

Trevon Bosley is a community activist in Chicago and a member of the B.R.A.V.E. Youth Leaders, a violence prevention group run out of St. Sabina Church in the city. He’s also a board member with the March for Our Lives organization who spoke at the 2018 march, and he returned to Washington for the 2022 event.

He said he’s skeptical that Uvalde will be a turning point in the movement against gun violence. More Republican voters are now voicing support for gun control measures, like red flag laws. But he’s not confident that will translate into legislative action.

Bosley lost his cousin to gun violence in 2005. In 2006, his brother Terrell was shot and killed outside of church while preparing for band rehearsal.

“I’ve been dealing with gun violence since I was 7,” Bosley said. “As far as seeing any changes come into my community anytime soon, it doesn’t seem like it.

“It’s disheartening for sure. I’ve been fighting this fight for a long time now,” he said.

Still, Bosley said he can’t afford to feel hopeless: “This doesn’t stop. My friends are still dying. I can’t sit around and do nothing.”

Sarah Schwartz, Staff Writer contributed to this article.

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