Cary High School sophomore Isabel Boston discovered political activism in English class. Boston said her teacher, Gail Stevens, inspired her to attend a student-led march Tuesday night calling for gun control and honoring the 17 victims of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last week.
“I think it’s really important that we come out and express our views,” Boston said. “And it’s been really great to have a teacher in our school that has helped us organized and really shown us the support that yes, as students, though we’re young, we can still do it and we can still make a difference.”
Hundreds of students, teachers, activists, and parents gathered at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in downtown Raleigh and marched through town to the Capitol building. Brian Lee, youth minister at the church, said he and Reverend Nancy Petty wanted to organize an event that empowered students.
“Nancy and I sat down Thursday morning last week and said, ‘We’ve got to do something and it can’t be another vigil,'” Lee said. “We have got to do something to make a real change. So we put our heads together, and decided it’s time to put the students, the ones who their lives are on the line every day, it’s time to put them out front and give them the voice that they deserve.”
Petty spoke before 17 students from different high schools around the Triangle carried candles representing each of the victims, 14 of whom were students.
“Students of all schools in the Triangle, if you are sick and tired of gun violence in our school and in your fellow students’ schools all across this country,” Petty said, “let me hear you roar, ‘No more guns.'”
Chapel Hill High School student Zainab Antepli emphasized the number of mass shootings members of her generation have witnessed across the country.
“Every time we open the news, there is another picture of a dead child, a crying mother, and policemen swarming the campus,” Antepli said. “We say our condolences to families in a monotone voice because this is not the first time we have said these words. These tragedies not only cause an immeasurable amount of pain, but are a stark violation of our most basic and fundamental rights as human beings.”
At the conclusion of the march, the students set down the 17 candles one-by-one in memory of the victims of the Parkland shooting.