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Let’s move forward together

4/9/2018, 11:26 a.m.
In the spring of 1960, I was a senior at Spelman College in Atlanta and decided to help organize the ...

Children’s Defense Fund

In the spring of 1960, I was a senior at Spelman College in Atlanta and decided to help organize the civil rights student sit-in movement to desegregate lunch counters. I went to Atlanta City Hall to engage in our cause to end racial apartheid. I felt overwhelming gratitude for the chance to be part of something larger than myself or our campus. My college diary captured a bit of the excitement of those days:

Now as never before is the chance offered to do something. This is a history-making epoch where we – me and the young – can be major characters. Now is the time to act – to work – to sacrifice …

Change is pervading – change I’m helping bring in. I’m useful and I’m serving and I’m so thankful.

We are making history. We are taking upon ourselves the problems of the time and what a good burden.

Today hundreds of thousands of students are taking on the burden of their and our time – where adults have failed to act to protect children from guns. The scenes from the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C., and the more than 800 sibling marches around the country and the world signal hope, inspiration, optimism and the confidence of a new generation of young leaders and activists. I can only imagine how many of these young people feel empowered and blessed as I did by finding their call to serve, work, sacrifice and make history.

It was wonderful to see children of all ages participate, the youngest being King’s 9-year-old granddaughter. He would be so proud of her as she stood onstage saying “Enough!” Special memories, tears and chants of anger – “Not One More! Vote Them Out!” were shared for the lives and hurt that remain with all left behind. There were powerful homemade signs – “Will I Be Next?” “Arms Are for Hugging!” “My Life is More Important Than Your Guns!” “Fear Has No Place in Our Schools!” “Restrict the Piece, Reserve the Peace!” “We Are Students, We Are Change!” “And a Little Child Will Lead Them!”

Watching it all gave such a sense of togetherness for all those who gathered whether it was in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, New York City, Los Angeles, Wichita, Miami, Philadelphia, or in dozens of other cities across the country and around the world.

We must move forward together to keep our children safe. As part of the Children’s Defense Fund’s longstanding work to Protect Children, Not Guns, we have released an updated factsheet on The Truth About Guns, debunking common myths and sharing 11 truths we should all know and act upon. Consider just one: Guns make violence more deadly. Contrary to what the gun industry says, guns do kill people. Guns make killing easy, efficient and somewhat impersonal, thereby making anger and violence more deadly. An estimated 41 percent of gun-related homicides and 94 percent of gun-related suicides would not occur if no guns were present. The use of a gun in family or intimate assaults increases the risk of death 12 times.