Students in New Orleans want to bring an end to the violence that strikes their classmates, their families, and their communities. Students came together in support of 15-year-old Chance Smith, one of NOLA’s latest gun violence fatalities. A freshman at Eleanor McMain, Chance was shot by another 17-year-old, allegedly because of jealousy. Senseless murders around the city happen with unrelenting frequency. The organizer for the student rally, Project Live and Achieve, worked in conjunction with Inspire NOLA Charter schools. They report the following:
“Recent studies show over 99% of the juveniles arrested in New Orleans are African American men, and 40% of our students are held back in school at least one time, threatening the limits of what they can achieve when given the environment they deserve.”
Students want to end the silence and end the violence. Hundreds of students endured the morning heat and rallied together, walking from the Superdome to City Hall. Upon arrival at City Hall, students gave speeches, shared poems of their pain, and gave several musical performances from elementary, middle, and high school area marching bands.
Mayor Cantrell was present and in support of the students need for the rally. She said,
“You all inspire me every time I am in your midst…You all have planned to march on City Hall to stand united as one for peace in the city of New Orleans. We know that far too many of our young people have fallen victim to gun violence…Lives are taken far too soon.”
The Mayor acknowledged that many times, the shooters are young people themselves. She encouraged students, telling them that they play a critical role in solving the problem. She said, “We need you to speak up. It’s not about being a rat! It’s about standing up so no one else succumbs to gun violence in our community.”
The Mayor has put together a Youth Advisory Council with which she encouraged students to serve, be a part, and help push for solutions to gun violence. Present at the rally were students from St. Augustine High School, Warren Eastern High School, Edna Karr High School, Eleanor McMain High School, KIPP and Inspire Charter Schools.