When the megaphones quieted, thousands could hear the voices of children chanting at Nashville’s March for Our Lives on Saturday.
“Today is a sign. We’re gonna invest in our kids,” Bishop Marcus Campbell said in a welcome speech at the event.
March for Our Lives is a national response to the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, to “demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues,” according to the event’s website.
In Nashville, the march emphasized the importance of voting and had volunteers along the route ready to help marchers register.
As Campbell concluded, the crowd drowned out the second half of the phrase, “United we stand, divided we fall.”
The march was organized by Abby Brafman, a freshman at Vanderbilt University and recent graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“This all started as a Facebook accident,” Brafman said.
She created the event to get a few friends together to march around the city, but what was meant to be a small group of friends turned into an estimated 10,000 people, she said.
The driving force behind the march was the work of students.
“A lot of marches have a lot of time to plan – this one went from zero to sixty,” said Ben Hopper, a junior at Belmont and a volunteer organizer for the march.
Hopper decided to go beyond marching because he recognized his numbness to the frequency of school shootings.
“I started to really feel it for one of the first times. It feels like a such a regular thing. And I don’t want it to be a regular thing,” Hopper said.
Even with the threat of thunderstorms, people came energized and ready to cause change.
Freshman Calista Ginn marched in opposition to the gun culture she saw so often in her home state, Texas.
“It’s so energizing being surrounded by people that share the same goal as you,” Ginn said. “Just seeing people standing together with a united front is really powerful.”
Speakers at the event included newly-minted Nashville Mayor David Briley, the Rev. Naomi Tutu and students of all ages affected by gun violence. Former Mayor Megan Barry was even spotted marching in the crowd.
March organizers and volunteers hope this event becomes part of a larger movement, not just a one-day statement.
“We’ve gotta keep talking, we’ve gotta keep fighting and we’ve gotta keep pushing,” Hopper said.
Article and photos by Katie Knipper.