What Comes After March For Our Lives? Parkland Students Have Big Plans This Summer
March For Our Lives activists are hitting the road this summer. The students fighting to eliminate gun violence in America announced a new initiative Monday morning aimed at registering young people to vote. March for Our Lives founder Cameron Kasky explained in a press conference Monday morning that March For Our Lives: Road to Change will consist of a 50-stop bus tour focused on increasing voter turnout in order to oust politicians who resist gun control policies.
"At each of the stops, we’re not only registering people [to vote] but will have bigger events or smaller round tables with people in the community to inspire them… to know young people actually can make a change as long as we put our vote where our words are," Sofie Whitney, an 18-year-old March For Our Lives activist and Marjory Stoneman Douglas graduate, tells Bustle.
Road to Change kicks off June 15 in Chicago, where March For Our Lives leaders will join the local Peace March. Overall, the students will make 50 stops in over 20 states "where the NRA has bought and paid for politicians who refuse to take simple steps to save our lives," the campaign's website says. The first leg of Road to Change will be followed by a separate Florida tour visiting all 27 congressional districts.
"We are encouraging people around the country to educate themselves on their vote — to get out there and turn voting into more of an act of patriotism than a chore," Kasky said.
The young gun control activists want to harness the energy of the March 24 March For Our Lives rally, which turned into one of the largest protests in the country since the Vietnam War, Kasky explained. The roughly 4 million Americans who turn 18 this year will add a surge of youthfulness to the electorate — if they register to vote, that is.
Fewer people tend to vote in midterm elections than in presidential elections, but the Road to Change campaign wants to flip the script. In the 2014 midterm election, voters between the ages of 18 and 29 made up only 13 percent of everyone who voted, CBS News reported at the time. By traveling the country, registering young people to vote, and encouraging them to actually show up at the polls, the March For Our Lives activists hope to see that figure rise drastically in November.
"We can march; we can bring our politicians into a new light and make sure they are being held accountable, but at the end of the day, real change is brought from voting," Kasky said. "And too often, voting is shrugged off as nothing in our country. People don't do it."
March For Our Lives activists will also dedicate part of the tour to educating people around the country about the gun control initiatives they want to see enacted: bans on high-capacity magazines and assault rifles, universal background checks, and increased funding for gun violence research. When it comes to the politicians who don't support those changes, the teenagers will also educate people on whether their elected officials support the NRA.
By starting the tour in Chicago, the students plan to shine a light on everyday gun violence that often gets less attention than mass shootings like the one in Parkland, Florida. March For Our Lives activists recognize that other young gun control advocates across the country are putting in work, too — and they're optimistic the entire movement will make lasting change.
"This generation is the generation of students you will be reading about next in the textbooks, because these are the students who are bringing about the real change and changing the game," Kasky said. "It's not just my friends and I from Stoneman Douglas High School. We are a part of something so much greater."