This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
As their chartered coach bus rolled toward Washington, D.C., on Saturday morning, about 30 students from Science Leadership Academy at Beeber in West Philadelphia got a pep talk from a veteran protester. “It’s great to be here on the cool kids’ bus,” said Philadelphia City Councilwoman Helen Gym.
Gym made her name as an education activist, a rabble-rouser. Today, she told the students, she was passing the baton to them.
“We believe in you,” she said, using a microphone on the bus. “We love you. We uplift you. Let’s go down to D.C. and make a ton of trouble.”
Almost all the students on the bus said they’d never been to a big national rally before. Thanks to the nonprofit Public Citizens for Children & Youth, they were on their way to the March For Our Lives.
Saturday’s rally was framed as both a protest against gun violence and a galvanizing moment for teenage activists, led by the student survivors of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Fellow teenagers from around the country heeded their call, included many from Philadelphia.
“I’ve wanted to come a couple of times to D.C. for something like this,” said 17-year-old Santana Outlaw. “I saw the opportunity to do it for the March For Our Lives and I’m like, oh, let me hop on that.”