South students participate in the March of Our Lives in Washington D.C.


Henry Holcomb

On March 24, students from Minneapolis Public Schools, including students from South, traveled to Washington D.C. to stand in solidarity with the others around the country and Parkland for the March of Our Lives. Sophomore Antiquita Flint was able to meet with lawmakers about preventing future shootings, as well as participate in the march.

After the tragedy on February 14th in Parkland, Florida, the students of Parkland decided to organize a protest in Washington D.C. against gun violence in schools. Students from across the nation, including South High School, gathered in D.C. on March 24th to stand in solidarity with the students in Florida. One student at South, sophomore Antiquita Flint, had the chance to speak with lawmakers in Washington. This included Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar. Flint was one of the only students that spoke for the state of Minnesota in D.C.. “I am a real good speaker and I pretty much got to be the only kid who got to represent Minnesota there in D.C. and I got to talk to Senator Amy [Klobuchar] and really connect[ed] with her. We did a press conference with a few others from government and they listened to what we had to say about gun violence,” Flint explained.

Flint went to D.C.through a group called Northside Achievement Zone [NAZ], which Flint explained that they, “pretty much wanna get kids to college,” with the group meeting weekly to talk about high school and college plans and other issues going on in their community.  She explained that following the Parkland shooting, her and her peers, mostly from other schools in the Twin Cities met at their weekly meetings and brainstormed what they wanted to do moving forward. They all agreed that they wanted to take part in the March of Our Lives so they could represent  Minnesota.

Flint has a personal history with gun violence that drove her to go participate in the March. “I have a cousin that lives in Chicago who was shot and killed this year and that’s something I was struggling with. I also have a cousin in St. Paul Minnesota that was killed. I have friends and family members that were killed in North Minneapolis,” Flint explained.

Flint believes that these experiences have impacted her and that’s why she wanted to go to D.C. for the march, “It’s a personal impact because me and millions of other kids family members and friends are being killed by guns and if the guns weren’t in young adults hands, then it wouldn’t have even happened. And that’s what drove me to go, what made me so empowered being there was the fact that it seemed like something will be done.”

Other students from South felt driven to participate in the March as well. Luca Raffo-Simones, a sophomore who want to the D.C. march explained, “I felt like it would be a good experience and something that I can look back on and be like ‘I was in D.C. for the March of Our Lives’… I feel like that’s really monumental and huge step in history and the reason it’s such a big step is so many people showed up so I wanted to show and show that the government needs to do something.” Isra Hirsi, a freshman explained, “I chose to go because I didn’t want my brother to die because of his skin and the easy access to guns.”

Celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Lin Manuel Miranda, Ben Platt, as well as many other participated or marched in D.C. as well. Flint explained, “It was cool to see really famous people take part in something that means a lot to not just us but the people that are voting government officials in.” Raffo-Simones explained, “A celebrity would perform, then a youth activist would speak… and only youth activists spoke, which I felt was good unless a celebrity is really active.”

Flint felt that some of the speeches needed to focus more on the greater community and less on Parkland specifically. “They did a good job with no discrimination. When they went up there though, they really put an emphasis on them and their schools and in my eyes I was like ‘this tragedy happened at your school and it should never happen anywhere and that’s what drove this march but your school is not the only school,” Flint explained. “The school itself is not the only place where kids play. Like playgrounds have been shot up, even in Minneapolis. And these things don’t make the news, that these kids get gunned down all around the world and they don’t get recognized because it isn’t the white community. That’s what bugged me a little bit, the fact that they put the emphasis on it won’t happen again and a lot of emphasis on our school and our struggle but it’s like we gotta make sure it doesn’t happen to us to!”

Many other students felt the experience was worth it. Junior Miguel Brandaõ explained, “It was a mind expanding experience seeing all different types of people there. I unitedd with lots of people on my trip who were affected differently by gun violence. Standing with other half a million people protesting for a common purpose was really powerful.” Hirsi explained, “It was amazing, there was a lot of people there and inspiring speakers.”

Raffo-Simones thought the speeches were powerful. “I don’t exactly agree with everything the March of Our Lives people were saying, but there we some really powerful speeches… they did talk about Black Lives Matter and how this has been a fight that’s been going on for a long time and people are only realizing it because white people are dying and they talked about the privilege Parkland has for being seen, which was really great for people to talk about.”

Hirsi agreed that she hopes gun violence will change because of the protests, “It made me feel like a lot more was possible because if these kids could so something then I can too. I hope that guns are a lot more regulated for everyone and that everyday violence for P.O.C. [people of color] gets decreased as well as gun shows being more regulated.

Flint believes that in light of the recent school shootings, her mindset about guns has dramatically changed. “When I was in middle school, a couple times people would tell me that ‘oh I have a gun in my backpack’… and I would just be like ‘oh I’m gone’ and now in my head I’m at the point where if someone told me that, I would have to do something about it in that moment because at any time they could shoot up anybody and I could be the first one to get hit,” Flint explained. “And that’s kinda where my mindsets at, any time I go outside I’m watching my surroundings, trying to stay out of the wrong place at the wrong time and just push forward. In a way I just kinda wanna do something about it…. We can’t set everything aside and forget about it because then the NRA [National Rifle Association] will get what they want.