On March 24th, tens of thousands of us across New Jersey marched in solidarity with the students of Parkland and with victims of gun violence everywhere. But the battle isn’t over yet. Throughout the summer and leading up to the midterm elections, March For Our Lives NJ will be working with students and local organizations to register voters, promote gun violence prevention laws, and teach our peers how to enact change in their own communities.
Check back frequently for updates on statewide events, or text @MFOLNJ to 810-10 to get updates texted straight to your phone. We hope to hear for you soon. Together, we can make a safer America and protect our children and schools.
THE MFOLNJ TEAM
The statewide New Jersey March For Our Lives took place at Military Park in Newark, NJ on March 24th, 2018, with about 6,000 attendees. We joined over 800 sister marches across the world, including our parent march in Washington D.C. in demonstrating against government inaction and inadequate gun legislation in the face of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, as well as the epidemic of gun violence that has swept across America in the last few decades.
March for Our Lives NJ is a student-centered organization lead by young people from diverse backgrounds who are coming together from schools across northern, central, and southern New Jersey. They are being supported by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America New Jersey and its local chapters, Women for Progress, and Elizabeth Meyer, founder and lead organizer of the Women’s March on NJ and lead organizer with NJ March for Science 2017.
Written by student leader, Sarah Emily – High School Senior
“Not one more. We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school. We cannot allow one more teacher to make a choice to jump in front of a firing assault rifle to save the lives of students. We cannot allow one more family to wait for a call or text that never comes. Our schools are unsafe. Our children and teachers are dying. We must make it our top priority to save these lives.”
-March for Our Lives, the National Organization
March for Our Lives New Jersey is the sister march of a national movement led and inspired by young activists from Parkland, Florida, who survived the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14th.
Young people are dying at an alarming rate from misuse and abuse of firearms. Seven of the 96 people killed in the United States by gun violence are children and teens, according to the Brady Campaign. In 2016, the CDC reported that gun violence killed more 15 to 19 year olds than cancer, diabetes and heart disease combined.
Guns are also disproportionately used against young people of color, those of lower income brackets, and survivors of domestic violence.
But these tragedies are largely preventable. Studies show that with universal background checks and other common sense gun laws we can reduce the carnage.
We can stop the senseless violence.
So whatʼs stopping us?
Lawmakers are putting a price on childrenʼs lives and ignoring evidence in favor of campaign contributions from the gun lobby.
School hallways should not be war zones, and students should not be going home in body bags.
Together, as young people, we unite to demand justice, action, and government accountability.
As the national March for Our Lives organization, says, “Change is coming. And it starts now, inspired by and led by the kids who are our hope for the future. Their young voices will be heard. Stand with us on March 24 — refuse to allow one more needless death.”
Written by Kira Edgar, one of the march’s student leaders.
Newark has a wide breadth of revolutionary, reform-minded history. Newark is among the nation’s most historically diverse cities. During the 19th Century and amidst resulting industrial booms of World Wars 1 & 2, many African Americans migrated to this city. By the decade popularly titled, “The Roaring Twenties” African Americans vastly outnumbered all other ethnic groups in this metropolis. In the present day, 53.46% of Newark residents identify as African American, while 29.5% of the city’s populace identifies as latinx. Positioning the march in such a deeply diverse location opens opportunities for social activism as well as relevant conversations regarding gun reform and mental health awareness to culturally distinctive and too often systematically oppressed individuals.
In addition, Newark is a center of education and youth-development (historically, as well as in the modern day.) Newark houses Rutgers, ranked the 25th largest university in the United States. This college includes a center for social justice, as well as opportunities for students, as undergraduates, to minor in Social Justice. Students are also able to major in Women’s and Gender Studies, African Studies, Africana Studies, and Organizational Leadership, all tools and skills deeply connected to student social activism and direction.
Additionally, Newark was one of the first homes of Princeton University, one of the best and most lauded educational institutions within the United States Newark also holds The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, a non-profit organization led, in part, by youth which, its own words, “…seeks to ensure that urban residents live in a society that respects their humanity, provides equality of economic opportunity, empowers them to use their voice in the political process, and protects equal justice.”
Furthermore. Newark falls at the center of this crisis, as an urban center long afflicted by violent crime. In 2016 the city of Newark experienced a total of 105 homicides and in 2017, attempted gun violence rose by 27% in New Jersey’s largest city. According to Newark’s Public Safety Director, Anthony F. Ambrose, the increased use of high-powered rifles and automatic weaponry have led to a concerning rise in non-fatal shooting victims. In addition, these alarmingly numerous instances of violence in Newark communities and neighborhoods further perpetuates cycles of violence and trauma, with city residents becoming less secure in their safety and, as a result, purchasing greater quantities of those guns and automatic weaponry which, cyclically, give rise to ever more disturbing and disquieting tragedies. This plight is made more severe by an excess of illegal gun trafficking which has blighted Newark since the late 20th Century.
Finally, Newark is of great convenience to New Jersey citizens who reside in locations extraneous to the city, as there are a great many public transportation routes stemming from this metropolis. Potential participants can take the New Jersey Transit Newark Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast, Raritan Valley line trains, AMTRAK Northeast Regional Trains, or PATH trains to Newark Penn Station, located at 1 Raymond Plaza West & Market Street. Our venue will be within walking distance to the station.
Students and youth leaders are rising up all across our state and taking action together, standing in support of the students of Parkland High School. We hope you’ll join us!
The student leadership committee of March for Our Lives NJ is comprised of 19 students from across the Garden State, which is something that makes our march unique. The committee grew organically, with students expressing interest in planning through Facebook and recommendations received from students and adults.
The students’ hometowns include Howell, Marlboro, Princeton, Randolph, Ridgewood, Somerville, South Orange, Toms River and West Orange. Nine of our members are high school or college students in Newark.
Their diverse backgrounds, including differences in gender identity, age, race, religion, ethnicity, orientation, and socio-economic status, are at the core of this committee’s strength. They each bring a particular voice and a wealth of prior knowledge and experience to the table.
Our students are members of school activities that include track and field, theatre, debate teams, community improvement clubs, youth ambassador programs and literary magazines and newspapers. They are active in their communities as photographers, social and civil justice activists and members of religious organizations.
March for Our Lives NJ is a student-lead and student-centered event. Our students are taking on leadership roles that including logistical decision-making, writing the mission statement, determining event flow and the speaking program, engaging with elected officials, drafting meeting agendas, leading conference calls, creating and managing social media platforms, creating and implementing fundraisers, drafting sponsorship letters, coordinating volunteers and attending events and planning meetings with officials. On the day of the event, students leaders will be speaking as well as managing the flow of event behind the scenes.