March For Our Lives, a gun control reform movement born in the aftermath of the 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, has been very busy over the past year. The group, which was spearheaded by some of the survivors, organized a walk to protest lax US gun control laws just days after the shooting. The walk was estimated to have had hundreds of thousands of participants in Washington DC, with millions joining in simultaneous protests around the world.
Seventeen months after that first march, the organization has only continued to grow and evolve. Most recently, March For Our Lives underwent a structural change in response to criticism over the mostly white leadership team. Through these changes, a more diverse team with the skills and know-how to empower members on both a national and local level was implemented.
Daphne Frias, the March For Our Lives New York State Director, explains the reasoning behind some of these recent changes to Parentology.
Needs Differ by Region
As the organization continues to grow, meeting the needs of various local communities has become vital. Critics felt the mostly white leadership was unable to understand and help needs facing communities of color.
Frias says the organization responded by on-boarding more diverse team members in an effort to make sure leadership accurately reflected the makeup of student populations, “which comes from all walks of life, and all ethnic backgrounds.”
Additionally, the organization has learned relationships and views on gun control differ based on region. Southern states may have different concerns than northern states, so the same grassroots approaches that are effective in New York won’t necessarily work in Georgia. Similarly, the needs of New York City won’t necessarily parallel those of Buffalo, New York. This understanding is one of the reasons why the group has empowered local leadership to work with their communities in a way that best fits the needs of the area, as opposed to sticking to a hard-and-fast national method.
Giving the five boroughs as an example, Frias explains, “what works in Brooklyn may not be a good fit for the Bronx.”
There are state directors in 48 US states at this time, with Hawaii and Alaska being the only two not to currently have anyone in leadership roles. This is another example of March For Our Lives’ understanding a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work for every area. In Alaska, where many residents need to carry guns to protect themselves from wildlife or to hunt for food, gun control conversations are much more nuanced.
Parents of Kids Who Want to Get Involved
Parents should support their children’s desire to get involved since these matters directly affect them, Frias says. Specifically, they shouldn’t discount the time they’re spending on their phones. “My phone is my lifeline,” Frias says, adding it allows her to connect with like-minded people looking to get involved and make a difference.
Frias is able to hop on messaging apps find someone to talk to at any time of day. Knowing how she interacts with her phone, and how it allows her to advocate, she warns parents their kids may be doing the same, and asks that they not automatically discount the time their kids spend online as frivolous or wasteful.