Just over a month since 17 people were killed at a Parkland, Florida, high school, marches across the country are taking place to demand change, and Johnson City is hosting one of them.
March for Our Lives events will take place on March 24 in multiple U.S. cities as part of a national movement organized by the survivors and student activists of Stoneman Douglas High School. The marches are intended to bring attention and action to school safety and gun-control reform.
“This particular march is ‘March for Our Lives,’ and to me, ‘Our’ can be absolutely anyone,” said Nathan Farnor, a march coordinator and East Tennessee State University student. “That is students, that is parents, that is community members, that is educators, elected officials, law enforcement.”
The Tri-Cities march is set to start at 1:30 p.m. on the corner of State of Franklin and University Parkway, move toward the downtown area, up the tree streets to South Side Elementary, and end at East Tennessee State University’s Borchuck Plaza.
At South Side Elementary, the march will pause to read the list of the 17 lives lost in the Feb. 14 Florida shooting and to observe a moment of silence. A rally with guest speakers will take place at Borchuck Plaza.
The local march is organized by a collection of local students and members of Moms Demand Action, an organization that seeks gun reform.
The Tri-Cites march began as a Facebook page to see if there was enough interest in the area, and now about 200 have responded to the event with intentions to attend and 600 have expressed interest. Farnor said his goal for the march is 250 participants, but he hopes to see more.
“We understand that we, as the citizens that live here, have an invested interest in our own safety, but we also want our educators and our law enforcement and elected officials to be just as protected,” he said. “So I would say that this event is open to absolutely anyone who values the safety of their fellow neighbors, their citizens, their fellow Tennesseans.”
This event follows the National Walkout Day on March 14. At 10 a.m. a month after Parkland’s school shooting, students across the country walked out of their classrooms for 17 minutes in remembrance of the number of victims at Stoneman Douglas High School.
Some high school students in Kingsport chose to participate in the protest by wearing the Florida high school’s colors—maroon, grey and white—rather than leaving their school, according to the Kingsport Times-News.
Kingsport City Schools also hosted a “Safe Schools Day” on National Walkout Day to honor the victims in a safe environment for students, faculty and staff. Additionally, the system allowed students to participate in conversation about school safety, review safety protocols and to observe a moment of silence for those who lost their lives in Florida.
Farnor said protesting students understand that schools are vulnerable places, and they want to feel safe there again.
“This particular march is definitely coming from students, and we’re asking for people to march with us—not just for us, but with us,” He said. “We understand that, as students, we’re inheriting the next generation for us and for our family and for our children and so on and so forth. It really takes all of us.”