Teenager Trevon Bosley stood in front of hundreds of thousands gathered for the March for Our Lives and led the crowd in a chant:
“Everyday shootings are everyday problems.”
Beside him, a young woman held up a photo of his brother, Terrell, who was shot and killed while leaving church in 2006. Bosley said he came to speak for his brother, along with his community.
“I’m here to speak for those Chicago youth who feel their voices have been silenced for far too long,” Bosley said. “It is time for the nation to realize gun violence is more than just a Chicago problem or a Parkland problem ... it is an American problem.”
Chicago students well-acquainted with the effects of gun violence have allied with Parkland’s student activists to amplify their calls for gun reform. Hundreds joined ‘March for Our Lives’ in Washington, accompanied by former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
“The Bosley family is extraordinary—they are all working to make Chicago safer,” Duncan said in a tweet after Bosley’s speech. “Love what they are doing, but breaks my heart that they do this work because their son was killed walking out of church. #neveragainmovement”
The Bosley family is extraordinary- they are all working to make Chicago safer.
Love what they are doing, but breaks my heart that they do this work because their son was killed walking out of church.#neveragainmovement //t.co/2DBucfUsFz
-- Arne Duncan (@arneduncan) March 25, 2018
Before the march, The New York Times profiled a group of Chicago students planning to attend, including Ke’Shon Newman, whose brother was shot on Chicago’s South Side.
“What I have in common with the kids in Parkland is that I know what it feels like to lose someone close to you,” Ke’Shon told the Times:
Chicago students also joined last week’s nationwide walkout on the one-month anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland. Organizers of the walkout encouraged students to leave class for 17 minutes—one for each person killed in Parkland—but some students added extra minutes to their protests for local victims of gun violence.
Ten days before the walkout, six high school students from the West and South Sides of Chicago were invited to visit Parkland. They were welcomed by Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and a survivor of the shooting. Gonzalez is also one of the organizers of the March for Our Lives.
After spending time with the students from Chicago, she shared her thoughts on Twitter.
“Florida’s safest city’ and one of the cities in America most affected by gun violence came together to share stories, ideologies, and pizza,” Gonzalez tweeted. “Those who face gun violence on a level that we have only just glimpsed from our gated communities have never had their voices heard in their entire lives the way that we have in these few weeks alone.”
In a following tweet, she wrote, “People of color in inner-cities and everywhere have been dealing with this for a despicably long time.”
Whether or not the students from Chicago, Parkland, and elsewhere will succeed in their push for more-restrictive gun laws remains to be seen.
In 2016, Education Week heard Chicago students describe, in their own words, how they deal with the daily threat of gun violence. Listen in to hear how they feel about their lives, their future, and their ability to enact change in their communities:
A version of this news article first appeared in the On Air: A Video Blog blog.