#OFAction at March For Our Lives
By Dana Mayber, OFA Deputy Campaigns Director
In the days and weeks since the tragic mass shooting in Parkland, the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have shown remarkable courage, channeling their emotion into tireless advocacy for gun reforms that would make our schools, and our country, safer.
Their impassioned call for action has inspired other students around the country — as well as teachers, parents, and so many others — to lend their voices to an increasingly powerful movement. OFA supporters and volunteers were proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with some of these amazing student leaders in cities nationwide.
On Saturday, we saw an incredible outpouring of support from every corner of the country and across the world. More than 800,000 people showed up in D.C. alone for what became one of the largest ever rallies for gun reform in the nation’s capital and the largest youth-led protest in decades. And millions of others came out in support at more than 800 sibling marches — it was an incredible display of solidarity as people joined together with a defined purpose and common goal: to demand that our elected officials take meaningful steps to end our country’s gun violence epidemic.
In Jackson, Mississippi, 18-year-old OFA volunteer and Tougaloo College freshman Alvin B. was one of the leaders of their local March For Our Lives, which he organized in collaboration with other local youth and community leaders.
In Wisconsin, dozens of students are using their spring break to keep the pressure on House Speaker Paul Ryan, organizing a four-day, 54-mile trek from Madison to Janesville — Ryan’s hometown — to demand common-sense action to address gun violence. Veteran OFA organizer and Milwaukee native Paul G. has been mentoring and supporting the students throughout the process, letting them lead the way. These incredible young organizers have already been covered by CNN, Huffington Post, Washington Post, Slate, and Mashable, among others. Follow their journey on Twitter at @50MilesMore and checkout their website.
Like Paul in Wisconsin, many OFA volunteer leaders around the country worked behind the scenes to support and mentor student organizers so that their passion for this issue, and their drive to speak out, turned into successful action.
In Dayton, an OFA chapter led by Martha C. partnered with a local Indivisible group to co-host press event trainings to prepare students on how to handle the press as well as to coach them on voter registration outreach. The event, which brought together more than 2,000 people, was covered by WHIO, WDTN, Fox45, and Dayton Most Metro. Find more on Facebook at March for Our Lives Dayton and on Twitter.
In Cleveland, OFA teamed up with student organizers and dozens of partner organizations to help fill the streets to demand real reforms, help attendees register themselves to vote, and ask participants to commit to vote for gun safety in November.
In Florida, volunteer OFA State Lead Malanda S. trained and worked with dozens of volunteers to coordinate voter registration outreach to help people register themselves to vote at local March For Our Lives marches across the state. In Southwest Florida, OFA volunteer Brian F. and his team played their part in supporting student organizers by grabbing a clipboard and making sure people in his community were ready to vote in 2018.
OFA Pennsylvania volunteer leader Anna P. worked with more than 30 student volunteers to help support an event bringing together 20,000 people in Philadelphia, where they marched side by side with Senator Bob Casey who agrees that we need real reform now. Armed with the organizing instinct to turn this historic moment into an organizing opportunity, OFA volunteers also made sure they were prepared to help attendees register themselves to vote — many for the first time — and then make a commitment to get to the polls this November.
Already, we are seeing that the voices of these young people — and the millions of Americans who stand with them — cannot be ignored. The chorus they’ve led keeps growing louder, and Congress is under more pressure to pass common-sense gun violence prevention measures than they have been in years.
But when politicians refuse to act, the students leading this movement are showing the entire nation how to administer the antidote to legislative inaction — not only are they demanding real reforms to be passed today, but they’re making it clear that they will use their voices, their platform, and their voting power to hold accountable those politicians standing in their way.
That’s why grassroots leaders stepped up to channel the energy of this moment into voting power in 2018 and beyond. OFA supporters came together at marches in more than 16 states to help eligible students — and Americans inspired to vote for gun safety — get themselves registered or pre-registered vote. And they spoke to thousands of voters who committed to vote for progress to end gun violence.
These are just a handful of stories from a single day of action, but OFA volunteers marched all across the country — from California and Hawaii to Indiana, Arizona, and South Carolina — to stand with students and join their call for action from their elected leaders.
Marching is just the first step. If this movement is going to turn Saturday’s energy into real, lasting change, then we’re going to need sustained, committed organizing. This fight won’t be won overnight, it’s going to take all of us, standing together to hold Congress accountable, and elect leaders who will prioritize the concerns of their constituents and the safety of our communities.
That’s why OFA supporters are continuing to stand with the students to keep this momentum going in the weeks and months to come, including by asking volunteers to host town halls while Congress is on recess next week and support more student-led walkouts on April 20. Want to get involved? Host your own town hall or find or host a walkout near you.