Alan Suemori
Commentary
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

People from all walks of life gathered on that rainy Saturday morning, March 24, to bring attention to the killing sprees taking place on school campuses across the nation. Spurred on by the Feb. 14 tragedy at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Honolulu gathering attracted over 4,000 people. They began their march at the State Capitol building and then proceeded along Beretania Street, down Richards Street, until they reached the Prince Kühiö Federal Building. The marchers then swept back up to the offices of the state Department of Education on Punchbowl Street. Organized and led by Hawai‘i high school and college students, the event was only one of 800 other protests that day that attempted to draw attention to the problem of gun violence in America.

They began gathering in the soft morning light, coming in out of the rain alone or in small groups. They carried with them homemade cardboard signs hastily drawn or stenciled out in simple letters and primary colors. Some had pictures of individual Parkland students taped to their placards; others had written elaborate messages detailing their rage. “My anger cannot fit on a simple sign,” said one silver-haired grandmother surrounded by her friends to no one in particular. Most carried nothing but an urge to come together and find comfort and common cause with like-minded neighbors and other strangers. They were a blend of different ages, races, genders, economic means and political tribes. Many had never participated in a protest march of any kind and wandered about the crowd, looking for a familiar face to anchor themselves to while others looked like veterans of movements and marches past. They peered into each other’s faces, hoping to find the answers to questions they struggle to articulate.

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Alan Suemori teaches Asian American history at ‘Iolani School. He is a former Hawai‘i Herald staff writer.

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