Students from Boston and surrounding towns rallied with March For Our Lives (MFOL) Boston at the Statehouse for gun control legislation, even as members of other regional chapters grapple with a sense of disillusionment and exclusion.
During the Youth Against Gun Violence Lobby Day on June 26, 2019, about 50 teenagers, primarily from Greater Boston, petitioned state legislators on four bills circulating through the House covering aspects of gun control in Massachusetts. The bills included topics such as firearm purchases, reporting, and licensing.
“We are a movement dedicated to ending gun violence in all communities and amplifying the voices of young people through civic engagement,” read MFOL Boston pamphlets available at the event..
The organization is a nonprofit that was founded by students after the Parkland school shooting in 2018. According to its national website, its agenda is “to harness the power of young people across the country to fight for sensible gun violence prevention policies that save lives.”
MFOL Boston members and students went to the offices of lawmakers in House committees to discuss the issues. Student advocates who spoke directly with lawmakers were pleased with the day’s work.
“All the staff we’ve talked to, they support [the legislation],” said activists from Lexington at the event.
But not all chapters are happy with the lack of cohesion among separate groups. Trevaughn Smith of the MFOL Springfield Chapter and one of its four original members, said he believes there is “clear dysfunction between the other groups” and spoke on inclusion issues among the activists.
“I believe 100 percent that there is a clear dysfunction between other youth groups,” said Smith. He said an event held in March at Boston University that was organized by the Boston chapter missed the mark with racial representation and inclusion.
Jenna Sun, current co-director of MFOL Connecticut, had a similar experience.
Sun said there was conflict surrounding small issues on the marketing of the conference and little interaction between groups that were previously unfamiliar with each other.
But the organization is making strides. Chinlay Chanvong and Jenna Sun, co-state directors for MFOL Connecticut, said they were happy with how chapters “are working to include more voices” of other student organizations. Sun said she hopes that she can use her new leadership position to ensure that “Connecticut focuses on inclusivity” within its teen activism community.