Why protests are important for change

Krutika Joshi, In-Depth Editor

On July 26, 1774 in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, four men opened fire in Pontiac’s Rebellion School. The principal was killed, as were nine, or according to some reports, 10 children. This was the earliest known American shooting to occur on school property. Since then, thousands of  innocent lives have been lost in shootings such as Columbine and Sandy Hook, and we have done absolutely nothing to prevent them.

On Feb. 14, 2018, yet another school shooting occurred in Parkland, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 14 teenagers and 3 adults were shot. This time, rather than simply sending the families of the victims with flowers and prayers and brushing it right back under the rug, there is a spark in the debate for gun control. The survivors from the shooting are taking a stand and are determined to continue their rally for gun control until they see changes in legislation.

In order to provide high school students across the nation with a public platform to voice their opinions, the survivors of Parkland and organizers of the Women’s March have planned walkouts and marches in DC. Additionally, on Wednesday Feb. 21 and March 14, over 300 Madison students walked out for 17 minutes, one minute each to honor the 17 high school students whose lives were lost. Students marched to support the shooting survivors who are protesting for gun control. While I understand that many kids participated in the walkout just to leave class or take advantage of the beautiful weather, many were there to advocate for gun control. I was one of them.

Some students and adults alike have questioned the effect of these marches and protests and whether there is really a point, and my answer to that is there is absolutely is a purpose. Peacefully protesting is imperative in a democracy and it is worth participating in for many reasons.

As high school students who cannot vote, these protests present one of the few opportunities we have to publicly voice our opinions. Protests can significantly raise awareness and bring the nation’s attention to a cause. They also unite people who have the same passion and create a sense of solidarity. They show people that they are not alone in the fight. When more people advocate for change, there is a much higher likelihood of the government taking action. Protests are crucial to a true democracy because they give the people a voice in what laws should be made.

Even though at times we may feel as though we are protesting in vain, sometimes, our pleas are heard and change occurs. In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus, which sparked a movement to integrate bus systems, which the government was forced to do after the protests. In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech at the historic March on Washington while thousands attended to rally for civil rights. These actions were instrumental in helping to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

We protest and use the power of our voices to stand up for what we believe to be right. We protest to give a voice to those who do not have one.We do not protest to see change overnight. We do not protest with the expectation that action will be immediate, but rather, that it will take time. We protest because we are the heart and soul of a democracy and the government does not lead us, but we lead them.

So yes, protesting is purposeful, and these walk-out protests are incredibly important because it is time that we see a change in gun control laws. Too many lives have been lost over a problem which can be amended. It is our duty as citizens to fight on the behalf of those who lost their lives and raise our voices to ensure that these cruel and heartbreaking school shootings are nonexistent in the future.