When the children march … things change.
In the Spring of 1963, the children of Birmingham, Alabama walked out of their schools and into the streets to protest segregation and racism, and the murder of Black children. Most of the adults in the movement were already in jail, including Dr. Martin Luther King. The children were all the Movement had left. They were forbidden to march by the White authorities, and even some of their parents told them not to leave school and march out of concern for their safety.
But they left their schools and marched anyway.
They were attacked by police dogs, and with fire hoses that ripped their clothes and flesh. They were arrested and crowded into jail cells; 1,500 in a cell built to hold 150. And in that era of three T.V. channels, nothing comparable to today’s social media, and far less print media, the treatment of these children sparked outrage across the nation, and the world. Outrage that changed America. Outrage that shifted the Movement for civil rights and for freedom from intimidation and murder, and ultimately changed our very culture.
On March 14, 2018, the children will walk out of school again. This time they march for the safety of all children and adults in America. They march for the right to attend school without fear. They march for the children and adults who have died attending church, school and concerts. As the children of Birmingham marched after four little girls were killed and 22 people were injured in a church bombing, these children will leave school to protest 17 killed and 14 injured by a young man with an assault weapon and military style bullets that rip flesh and organs to shreds.
Some schools have forbidden the children to march. They will leave school and march anyway.
They won’t be met with bullhorns, dogs, racist politicians, police with billy clubs, and fire hoses. They may be met with angry gun owners and rabid NRA proponents. They may get suspended, as some schools have threatened.
They will leave school and march anyway.
And while the odds and consequences of their march are not comparable to the ones faced by the children in Birmingham in 1963, we must react the same. OUR collective outrage must bring change now as it did then.
They deserve our support as the status quo deserves our outrage. After all, the children truly are all we have left.
And they will leave school and march.