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 by a dozen reporters. We’re still seeing their photos show up in different media outlets as people tag us.

For two hours, it was all about speeches, singing, call-and-repeat chants, and lots of cheering. There were a couple of really impactful poetry performances too. Olive was one of the first speakers. She was so good. Powerful and smart and passionate. (See a video of the full speech at the bottom of the post.)

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 coverage from the March. Some of the highlights:

The San Francisco Chronicle lead out with a quote from Olive (check out images 5 and 11 of the slideshow too):

“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.

23 thoughts on “March For Our Lives – Oakland, California”

  1. That is amazing! Congratulations. I’m so proud of this generation. Their determination, their ability to put themselves out there and their eloquence is inspiring. When I was in high school I just wanted to get through the day without anyone noticing me too much!

    I took my own daughters (14 & 11) to our march in Tucson which had a lot of support. I’m not sure they knew what to think but I’m hoping that I’m planting the seed for them to stand up for what they care about.

    Right now I’m in the middle of contacting high schools to see if I can set up voter drives this spring . . . it feels good to be able to do something.

  2. I went to a rally in Kansas City, MO. It was impressive to see how articulate, determined, and hopeful these young organizers and speakers are. I came away with so much hope for our future, admittedly something that I haven’t been feeling in the recent political climate. It was a marvelous thing to witness. Kudos to your Olive!

  3. I marched in Denver with my 3-year old son, husband, brother, brother-in-law and several dear friends. My son made his own sign for the march (just art, no words) and insisted that it be on a stick because he has strong opinions about protest art after attending the Women’s March earlier this year.

    I’m so proud of this generation, and I’m so excited to see the world they create for themselves (and for those of us lucky enough to live long to live there with them).

  4. Way to go, Olive! Ditto on these other comments. Feeling so hopeful about this generation. Would love to hear/see Olive’s speech. Any videos?

  5. So inspiring. I was unable to attend a march due to some health issues I’m battling but I followed along all day from my laptop. Your daughter’s speech was so eloquent – thanks for sharing the link to it. And kudos to your whole family for showing up and speaking out.

  6. I love how involved your whole family was this weekend! I had planned to march but didn’t want to take my 4-year old,(because he is already anxious about starting school next year, occasionally to the point of tears), and then my husband got really sick, and well, it just didn’t work this time. But this cause has my whole heart and I am following it closely and will continue to vote based on candidate’s stand on gun safety.

    Your kids are out there kicking ass. Great work, mom and dad!

  7. Gabby, You must be so proud. Olive was AMAZING! So informed, confident and well-spoken. Her comment that Columbine was 18 years ago and that she is 16 and has never known a time of no gun violence in schools really resonated with me as a mom and as a teacher.

  8. What an amazing thing for Olive to have done and for you all to have been a part of! We weren’t able to go to the March in London because of prior commitments and I was bummed, but to be honest, gun violence in schools is NOT something students in the UK have to worry about. When we move back to the US in the summer and get back involved in schools there, I know our family will take part in efforts to stem gun violence – we’re already talking about how to get involved. This upcoming generation of teens (and younger kids) is a change-maker and I cannot wait to see them in action.

  9. Thank you for sharing! I taught middle school before becoming a mother, and I absolutely loved it. Now I have littles, and I get sad (and a bit angry) when I hear things from parents about how I should enjoy it now since it will be terrible when they’re teens. I loved this reminder of what strong, positive, articulate, organized, caring people adolescents and teens can be!

  10. Please tell Olive, Oscar, and Betty that I am so proud of them. My oldest participated in the DC march and my youngest with us at a hometown march. I have so much admiration and respect for these magnificent, magical, smart kids. I really can’t wait for them to be our leaders.

  11. We did! Our first march ever. We marched in Chicago. We made signs and rode the train downtown from the suburbs. We bundled up and also prepared our kids (ages 5 and 6) for what they could expect and why we were doing this. I made my sign, and my daughter asked if she could make one too. I told her sure, but she needed to have her own idea: I wasn’t going to make a sign for her-she needed to say what she needed to say.
    I was internally delighted as we met person after person on our journey from our home in the suburbs to our march spot who encouraged us and our kids. And then, to arrive in that park surrounded by 85,000 other folks. My husband and I long ago made a promise that we would raise children who weren’t afraid to stand up and speak their voice on behalf of equality and justice, and my heart wanted to burst, knowing that I was keeping a promise to myself-that I was being the mom I longed to be, at least for that day, for that moment. I wanted my daughter to see that her mom wasn’t afraid to have her voice go hoarse shouting with people for what I believed (as a soft-spoken introvert, it was definitely something she hadn’t seen from me before). It was a crummy weather day (vaguely misty and cold), but my daughter said, “Mom-this is hard…but it felt good, though. Being here.” Yes it did.
    It was our first march. It won’t be our last.

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