When a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida earlier this year, killing 17 students and faculty, surviving students led a charge for gun control and launched a political movement to demand action from lawmakers.
Some of those surviving students joined Alabama’s teen anti-gun violence advocates Tuesday, as part of the March Across America panel at Birmingham’s Highlands United Methodist Church.
The church was full with hundreds of people including city and state leaders like councilman John Hilliard and congressional candidate Mallory Hagan.
The students want both teens and adults to register to vote and support political candidates who listen to their concerns.
Aalayah Eastmond is a senior at the Florida high school and part of the student group traveling across the country. They’re tracing the route of other student freedom riders who challenged segregation in the 1950s and 60s.
Aalayah Eastmond is a rising senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She was in the freshman building when the shooting happened. She didn’t have a chance to escape the building but instead hid under a desk. Six of her classmates were shot – two of them died. pic.twitter.com/oufXECHHRb
— Miranda Fulmore (@mirandafulmore1) July 31, 2018
Eastmond says the movement has a different mission now, but it’s still about change.She says she wants “eradication of gun violence everywhere –whether it’s in the schools, in concerts or in the streets of urban communities. We’re not asking to take everyone’s guns away, we just want to make it harder for the wrong people to obtain guns.”
Ellen “Kat” Walton is a recent graduate of Vestavia Hills High School who was on the panel. She says speaking up is part of civic duty.“Citizenship is so much more than paying taxes and doing jury duty,” Walton says. “Citizenship is about making a ruckus when a ruckus is necessary.”
The students toured the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute following their panel discussion. They go on to Selma and Montgomery.