As the temperature neared 90 degrees on Saturday, June 11, in downtown Jackson, Miss., Anna Buckley crouched down on the sidewalk across from the Mississippi State Capitol with chalk in her hand. Sweat rolling down her face, she helped write calls-to-action on the light-gray concrete such as “Say No to Gun Violence” and “#enough is enough” before a rally against gun violence began that day.
Moms Demand Action and March for Our Lives co-sponsored the rally, which gathered dozens of community members to hear a series of speakers and participate in chants for gun reform. March for Our Lives, a student-led organization centered on gun-violence prevention formed after a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in 2018, designated Saturday as a “National Day of Action” following a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 children and two teachers dead. Protests and marches occurred across the United States, with the main event taking place in Washington, D.C., where thousands marched to the Washington Monument.
The crowd gathered on the lawn across the street from the Capitol to listen to a series of speakers ranging from Shuwaski Young, a Democratic candidate for Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District, to Deonte Hart, a high-school student who volunteers his time mowing lawns and helping Jackson residents in need through Operation Good. In between speakers, the crowd held up signs and shouted pleas toward the Mississippi State Capitol building.
“Thoughts and prayers are not enough!” the crowd chanted. “Break the silence; turn to action!”
Buckley saw Saturday’s rally as an opportunity for the Jackson community to raise their voices against gun violence in the capital city and schools nationwide. She encouraged community members to write letters to local political leaders to express their desires for change.
“I, myself, still see myself as a child,” Buckley, a 2022 graduate of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Jackson, Miss., said.
“Remembering these experiences and (knowing) that kids are going through this is really upsetting,” she added. “Change needs to happen so that people can have successful lives and make it past elementary school.”