Hundreds of students, politicians, activists and community members rallied at UNC on Thursday, joining the national conversation about gun control and the prevention of mass shootings.
The UNC Rally for Our Lives was held at Polk Place and featured several speakers, including students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Students from UNC, Duke University and Elon University were among the rally’s speakers. Also taking a place at the podium were senators, representatives and leaders of community organizations such as Bull City United and the Raleigh-Apex chapter of the NAACP.
Voter registration tables lined the walkways of the quad, calling on voters to take action and go to the polls. At the end of the rally, a vigil was held to honor the victims of the Parkland shooting and all other victims of gun violence.
First-year Joshua Romero, one of the speakers during Thursday's rally, created a campus activist organization called UNC4MSD in support of the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Having grown up close to Parkland, he said he felt a responsibility to help those affected by the shooting.
“The tides are turning, and they will continue to turn,” Romero said. “And let me assure you — you do not want to be on the underside.”
Romero highlighted the goals of the anti-gun violence movement following the shooting in Parkland, Fla.
“We do not want to get rid of the second amendment,” Romero said. “But we do want regulations to make our community safer.”
Robert Schentrup, the brother of Parkland victim Carmen Schentrup, spoke at the rally and shared stories about his sister’s lovable personality, her humor and her dreams of discovering cures for diseases like ALS.
“I am standing here now telling her story of what could have been, instead of what was going to be,” Schentrup said. “No family should have to go through the tragedy of losing a child, especially to gun violence, an issue which is completely preventable.”