By Shelby Loebker.
Photographed by Calvin Scott.
SCAD students organized and participated in a local satellite march of the March for Our Lives protest that took place in Washington D.C. and elsewhere across the nation on Saturday, March 24.
Kylie Ruffino and Devyn Bauer, first-year SCAD students, rallied interest, raised funds and completed the necessary work to make the Savannah March an officially sanctioned branch of the larger march.
The demonstrators gathered in Wright Square starting at 12:30 p.m., and distributed signs, bumper stickers and flyers for their cause. Then, at 1:00, they began to march. The participants broke into two groups, one marching on either side of the street, as they walked the approximately 1.5 miles to the north end of Forsyth Park, where they gathered for a demonstration behind the tennis courts.
Each of the march organizers spoke during the rally, and encouraged students, activists and citizens not to give up on the cause. They also held a moment of silence for gun violence victims, during which Bauer read the names of the people killed by the shooter at Stoneman Douglas High School.
In addition to the march organizers, Savannah resident Madiha Clarke came forward to speak. Clarke is the mother of Kaleel Clarke, the 20-year-old who was fatally shot on Savannah State University’s campus on Saturday, February 24. Since the death of her youngest son, Clarke has dedicated herself to the cause of ending gun violence in Savannah, and the United States as a whole.
“There’s nothing left for me to do now but to try and help these kids,” she said at the rally. “We’ve got these kids who are trying to protect kids.”
After Clarke’s speech, Ruffino spoke to the hushed audience. “I want us to feel these tears. And I want us to feel this pain. But I don’t want us to turn it in to anything that isn’t good,” She said. “We are going to turn that into change. We are going to turn that into reform. And we are going to do something good with all of this sadness.”
Someone in the crowd shouted, “the kids can do it!” and others let out cheers. But Ruffino, though she grinned, emphasized that this isn’t about kids, or students, and it isn’t a fluke, either.
“Every movement in America has started with the next generation,” she said, “The civil rights movement, the women’s movement, heck, even the American Revolution.”
“Student is a qualifier,” Ruffino explained. “I am a citizen. And I am making change. We are all in this country as one…we are not just kids. We are America.”