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Students kick off anti-gun tour

CHICAGO (CNS): “Something is happening across this country. Young people are rising up, from the north to the south to the east and to the west, and they are taking control,” Father Michael Pfleger, parish priest of St. Sabina Church in Chicago, said at June 15 rally kicking off a series of weekly marches for peace
 
This year, March for Our Lives and students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida—the scene of a deadly shooting in February that triggered formidable student advocacy for gun law reform—used the rally to launch their national March for Our Lives: Road to Change tour advocating for stricter gun laws and registering young people to vote.
 
While the crowd was filled with people of all ages, the focus was on the young people.
 
“I love you because you say what is on your heart and what’s in your spirit. That’s what America needs right now,” Father Pfleger told the hundreds-strong crowd, noting that young people are impatient with the gun violence in today’s society and they are unfiltered in their honesty.
 
More than a dozen students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland took to the stage and student Kyrah Simon said their voices matter.
 
“Everyone from Parkland is so grateful to be here with you today. We’re so grateful to fight with you, to stand with you, to rally with you,” Simon said. “Our voices united are stronger than anything else.”
 
Joining them at the rally, were former United States Representative, Gabby Giffords, singers Jennifer Hudson and Chance the Rapper, together with will.i.am of the musical group, Black Eyed Peas. 
 
Blase Cardinal Cupich of Chicago, offered an opening prayer. 
 
Giffords, who was seriously wounded in a 2011 shooting, urged the young people to stand up for “what is right” and vote in the next presidential election so their voices are heard.
 
Will.i.am said he was inspired saying, “I applaud you all. I bow to you all,” adding, “Let’s inspire all the youth to wake up and do the same thing.”
 
“It has always been the youth stepping up and this time it isn’t just one or two or there, it is millions,” he said.
 
Hudson, who grew up in the city’s Englewood neighbourhood and whose mother, brother and seven-year-old nephew were murdered there in 2008, told the young people to stay together not just in the bad times but the good times.
 
“One thing my mother taught me was to take care of home first. I think that’s why we’re all here,” she said. “I want to encourage the children to stay positive and know that there is so much more to life than the block you live on.”
 
She then led the gathering in singing Amazing Grace and encouraged everyone to pray for each other and those around them “because that’s the only thing that’s going to get us through.”
 
Chance the Rapper, who hails from the city’s West Chatham neighbourhood, rounded out the speakers.
 
“We’re all here for the same reason,” he said. “We want peace. We want safety from gun violence and violence of all kinds.”

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