Jobs With Justice/March For Our Lives

By Erin Graham

Courtesy of March For Our Lives

About Jobs With Justice/March For Our Lives

Jobs with Justice/March For Our Lives

Organization: March For Our Lives Boston under the sponsorship of Jobs with Justice.

Overview: The March For Our Lives Boston protest was a movement from below organized almost entirely by Boston high school and college students. Its goal was to announce that the prolific gun violence in America was “#ENOUGH”, and encouraged voters and politicians to enforce gun control policies (H. 3610 Bill, Senate 2325). The movement was sponsored by Jobs with Justice in Jamaica Plain.

Jobs with Justice is a coalition that combines a variety of organizations in the Massachusetts area. Its goals are a variety of job focused missions including fighting for the rights of workers in the U.S. and abroad, protecting the right to organize and strike, and fighting against a variety of discriminations in the workplace. They are fun by a staff of 7 central individuals with backgrounds and jobs in social movements and justice. The coalition contains over 100 individual member organizations, including those such as AFGE, Black Economic Justice Institute, Class Action, Jewish Labor Committee, and many more. They also believe that the government should provide for the people in the form of schooling, health care, and affordable housing. They’ve been behind a variety of campaigns in recent interest including the March for our Lives, such as community events, marches and strikes for demanding an increase in the minimum wage, and Raise Up MA.

Reflection: The moment I stepped into Jobs with Justice in Jamaica Plain to meet with the high school organizers of the march, I was beckoned to the back. The room was open and the walls were covered in whiteboards, post-it notes, and protest signs (most demanding the House and Senate bills be passed). The student organizers immediately asked if I wanted to sit at the table with them, so I did. They were at a large oval table, all in discussion with one another as they wrote speeches, decided on last-minute speakers, and spoke with me. The march was the next day, yet they were eager to talk to me and were transparent in answering every question. Unlike spontaneous movements such as Occupy, this was planned to a T.

I first asked about funding; they said it was from “all over,” but one student immediately threw out a statistic (they had many memorized) that 20% of donations were $10, and they confirmed this was intended to be a grassroots movement. Jobs with Justice, the building and social justice organization hosting them, was a fiscal sponsor of theirs. Moms Demand Action was an organization closely tied to them as well.

When I asked how they were going to perpetuate the movement’s goals beyond the march, they spoke about town hall meetings, urging representatives to vote in favor of the two Red Flag bills, and continue to petition for gun control. I asked if the students had a politician they were intertwined with, and they all immediately recoiled and blurted, “No.” In fact, one turned to me with a firm glare and said, “They’re the ones who fucked up in the first place.” This is definitively a movement from below; establishment conservative politicians are in pro-gun hegemonic control, and they are failing the people, thus the people are enacting change.

The way they disseminate information is through social media. One of the students was a Parkland survivor and was irked by adults who dismiss social media as an asinine game for young people. She said Snapchat was how she knew her friends were alive during the shooting.

I asked why the students were marching; one of the students said he lives in Roxbury and witnesses gun violence’s more frequent tragedies, police violence and gang violence. The Parkland student said reliving her endless trauma with each shooting drives her to fight back every day.

Overall, the students were well-organized, well-informed, and wrote speeches with very strong pathos and logos, despite the world telling them they have no ethos. For them, it was very important the issue was intersectional: they said that Black Lives Matter came up in their discussions, and how mass shootings are an issue but in Boston especially, police brutality and gang violence is horrific. They wanted to push for voter registration as well.

As I left, I thanked them and told the Parkland student that she’s very brave for doing this. She shook her head and said she’s not doing it because she’s brave, she’s doing it because “I have to.”

At the march itself, I walked with teachers, younger people, older people, steelworkers, bus drivers — people from all walks of life and different backgrounds. The walk itself was very political and harkened back to Cox’s and Nilsen’s discussion of the physicality of movements and the spaces they are in. The walk began in Roxbury — an area with plenty of police and gang violence — and culminated of course at the visible and central symbol of the Boston Common. I noted that the walk took us past the Boston Police Headquarters.

Interview with Jobs With Justice/March For Our Lives