Forty Wisconsin high school students took a cue from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in calling for gun control, finishing a 50-mile march on Wednesday.
Several Black students participated in the “50 Miles More” effort on Sunday, a day after the March For Our Lives rallied folks into formation. They walked from Madison, Wisconsin to Janesville, the home of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, CBS News reported. A rally was held at the students’ final destination, a park, where student speakers called for Congress to take action on gun control after the horrific Parkland shooting tragedy.
“People can hear us. People can hear us from every corner of the country and that’s the power of, you know, social media,” Milwaukee high school student Katie Eder, one of the teens accompanied by adult volunteers and spending nights in schools along the march route, said.
Students crossed a bridge to get to the park during the trek, an event that was a reminder of Dr. King’s history-making march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in March 1965.
The 5-day, 54-mile protest march led by King was a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement. African Americans were able to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented them from voting with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was spurred by King’s Selma march.
Fast forward to more than 50 years later, students took to the ground to push for gun reform laws. They chose to walk to Janesville to get Ryan’s help.
“He has more influence over how people vote, why people vote… We have the unique opportunity of being in his home state,” a student, who was not identified, said of Ryan, who was overseas over the weekend. “It’s a step in the right direction is what I’d go with. I’d say it’s a very small step.”
Ryan’s office issued a statement about the march, saying that he “respects those expressing their views” to CBS.
However, the students want more than respect and are seeking change. The students want to ban military-style guns and accessories that turn semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons, The Associated Press reported. They also want a four-day waiting period for all gun purchases and background checks on all gun sales. They also want the legal age to buy a gun raised to 21.
The teens are encouraging students in other states to also embark on 50-mile marches to the hometowns or offices of their elected officials to push for gun control.