By Senator, Lena C. Taylor
Local students have announced their plan to join in Madison on March 25 to march 50 miles south to Janesville, to the home of House Speaker Paul Ryan, in what they’ve named the 50 Miles More March. Led in part by Shorewood High’s own Katie Eder, the students have sited the 1965 Selma to Montgomery civil rights march as inspiration for keeping the school safety issue front and center following the March 24 March for Our Lives protest in Washington D.C.
They will make their way down to Janesville, a journey that will take them four days’ time with overnight stays at local high schools along the way. Like the Selma to Montgomery march, our young people will be putting their time and bodies on the line to remind those who are entrusted with their safety and well-being that many issues truly transcend politics. And like the Selma to Montgomery March, I am reminded that it can take looking at our children to be reminded what pure, unbiased intentions look like.
On one hand it saddens me to see that the fight for common sense legislation is still going on decades after Dr. Martin Luther King led thousands to Alabama’s Capitol in 1965. On the other, I could not be prouder to see the young people of my district following in Dr. King’s footsteps, and peacefully protesting so that the 17 students and staff members killed in the Parkland, Florida tragedy will be more than just another set of numbers.
It came as no surprise that a large portion of the students marching, including several of the event organizers, are from Milwaukee area high schools. It’s not the first time our young people voiced their concerns in the form of non-violent protest. This very month four Milwaukee Public Schools participated in an organized effort to oppose ending the DACA program. Time and again, our young people have shown how willing they are to step into action and cut to the heart of reforms we have allowed to become far too political in nature.
They’ve made it clear that if Paul Ryan and other Republicans continue to roll over for special interest groups on these issues, they’ll find overwhelming opposition in the form of continued protest in the streets, the schools, and ultimately in the ballot box. The loose gun legislation in this country is a problem that needs more than thoughts and prayers, it needs to be addressed through constructive discourse and swift legislative action. I commend the students of Milwaukee and Wisconsin as a whole for their continued push for change. The rally cry of justice that was started by the survivors of Parkland, has been echoed by the young people of Milwaukee. They too have been the victims of gun violence, and they too are done waiting for action from politicians that for too long have remained silent. Their resilience and aspirations for real change make me proud to call Milwaukee home.