March For Our Lives – Oakland, California
Wow! What a weekend. Saturday felt like such a big day, and I’m so impressed with the teenagers who made it all happen. I loved seeing my own kids get involved. Our high school sophomore, Olive, gave a kickass speech at the March For Our Lives Rally in Oakland. She lead out the March. She was interviewed on NPR. And the San Francisco Chronicle kicked off their coverage with a quote from her! Oscar and Betty were also interviewed and photographed by several news outlets. Can I tell you a little bit about it?
We stayed up late on Friday night. Olive was writing and re-writing her speech. Then she practiced it over and over again in front of us so we could offer tips. At the same time, we worked on a banner for the March. We sent everyone to bed after midnight.
Olive was up at 5:30 on Saturday morning, and we dropped her off at the March at 6:00. She wanted to get there early to help set up. Back at home, the rest of us got ready and left the house about an hour before the Rally began. The official Rally was scheduled from 10:00 to Noon, with the March starting as the Rally finished. We wanted to get there early so we could be up front and have a good view of Olive when she spoke.
When we got there, the plaza was still quite empty. And it started to rain. But the people gathered despite the weather. By 10:00, there were thousands. Because we were there early, and were standing up front, Oscar and Betty and June were interviewed and photographed a dozen reporters. We’re still seeing their photos show up in different media outlets as people tag us on social media.
For two hours, it was all about speeches, singing, call-and-repeat chants, and lots of cheering. There were a couple of impactful poetry performances too. Olive was one of the first speakers. She was so good. Powerful and smart and passionate.
Then it was time for the March to start. Olive and the 3 other youth leaders who organized the Oakland event, led out the March. We marched from Town Hall to Lake Merritt, then people gathered around the Lake for more speeches, more singing, and more chants. Some Marchers took BART (our public transit system) into San Francisco to join the March there.
We couldn’t stay at the Lake as long as we liked, because we needed to drop off Olive at the high school. The theater department was doing a production of Annie and had two performances on Saturday. Olive was in the play and got there just in time.
After we dropped off Olive, I was dropped off at our church building to catch the last session of the Women’s Conference. Right after I was dropped off, Ben called me and said, “Olive’s interview is on NPR right now!” I listened in while his phone was held up to the car radio.
That evening, we all went to see Annie. It was great! And after the performance, we all went to a diner for late-night dinner. We had so much fun passing around phones as we found links to more pictures from the march, and more quotes. Some of the highlights:
“At the microphone in downtown Oakland was 16-year-old Olive Blair, with a voice that boomed through the city and a message that echoed around the country: “If you think our voices are getting louder, it’s because they are,” she proclaimed.
Olive, in a bright red jacket, stood in front of what police said were 2,000 or so people at Oakland’s version of March for Our Lives, a worldwide rally calling for stronger gun control in the wake last month’s shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school that killed 17 people.
“If you aren’t shaken — you need to be,” Olive said, confidently reading a speech she had practiced in front of her parents the night before.”
– Oscar was quoted in this KQED report — there’s a photo of Oscar & Betty too. (KQED is the Bay Area NPR station.)
– If you click the listen button on the same article, you’ll hear Olive interviewed about 10 or 15 minutes in.
– June was featured in a slideshow (photo #21 and 48) on the East Bay Times.
I think we’re all still processing everything that happened this weekend. I was so moved by seeing teenagers from all over our area gather together to make their voices heard. The support from the community was amazing. And we’ve been watching reports from around the world all weekend. The whole effort has really brought out my emotions and raised my hope levels. It’s been 20 years since Colombine. Will we finally see change? To me, it feels like something big is happening.
How about you? Were you able to take part in your local March? Did you watch the coverage at all? Did you see any particularly good signs? What do you see happening next?
P.S. — I shared lots of snippets from our day on my Instagram Stories. You can see them in the highlights on my Instagram Profile.
Photo credits: First and 3rd images are my own. Additional images by Jessica Christian, The Chronicle, Sheraz Sadiq/KQED, and Michael Short / Special To The Chronicle.