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At Boston's 'March For Our Lives' Rally, Adults And Students Unite Behind Common Cause05:23
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March for our lives protesters cheer and raise signs as they just arrive to the Boston Common. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)MoreCloseclosemore
March for our lives protesters cheer and raise signs as they just arrive to the Boston Common. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Tens of thousands of people took part in Boston's March For Our Lives Saturday as part of a national movement for gun control, with students at the front — and leaving adults looking on with a range of emotions.

Outside Boston's Park Plaza Hotel, hundreds of adults awaited the march's arrival. Among them was 54-year-old Becka Sherzer.

Sherzer is a career activist who did her marching during the AIDS epidemic. That was decades ago, and yet — watching today's students protest gun violence — it feels close at hand.

“The government isn’t representing them, the government isn’t taking care of them," she said. "And it’s not very dissimilar from the AIDS crisis, when the government turned away from people dying.”

Sherzer said she felt conflicted: The youth protest was a beautiful thing, but this wasn’t the world that she hoped to leave for younger generations.

“We’re not giving them books! We’re teaching them how to hide underneath their desks — instead of teaching them history and learning from history ourselves," she said. "It’s kind of terrifying.”

That feeling — of a generation gap — was inevitable, given that this latest popular movement is being led by teenagers.

But many older people said they felt proud of the young people waking up early to make their voices heard. One of them was Barbara Cheresh, part of a group of grandparents to attend from Lexington.

Cheresh’s friend, Janet Linn, says she saw coming to the march as part of her duty as a senior citizen.

"I think it's wonderful that young people are doing this, and us old gray-haired people need to show them that we support them," she said.

Sisters Leonor, left, and Beca Muñoz speak to the crowd at the Boston Common. Beca graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to go to Northeastern. Her sister, Leonor, still goes there. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Sisters Leonor, left, and Beca Muñoz speak to the crowd at the Boston Common. Beca graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to go to Northeastern. Her sister, Leonor, still goes there. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A little after 2 p.m., the rally on Boston Common got underway. Of the speakers, two sisters — Beca and Leonor Muñoz — had the closest connection to last month’s violence.

Beca graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to go to Northeastern. Her sister, Leonor, still goes there.

"This isn't just about Parkland. Gun violence did not just start on February 14th. This is not new," Beca told the crowds.

"And us Parkland kids? We're not special. I wish we were the only ones to have ever known this. But we're not," Leonor added. "We're not especially articulate. We're not super-charismatic. And we're not the first students to be fighting for this. This movement was always here."

In contrast to other rallies nationwide, the Boston organizers made a point of reminding their fellow demonstrators of the need to connect the movement against guns with the communities where guns hit hardest.

After the event, I asked Beca and Leonor what they would say to Sherzer, the AIDS activist disappointed at how little progress has been made in the past 30 years.

Leonor didn't necessarily disagree.

"Yeah, the world really sucks," she said.

But they also said the march should be a sign that things can still change for the better.

"She fought then and now we're fighting for this generation. That generation made so much progress," Beca said. "Our generation's making even more — and we'll just continue to do so, until we live in a world's that better."

As protesters left the Common, they left their signs propped along Common's iron fence, where pedestrians could read them, take pictures, and move on.

This segment aired on March 25, 2018.

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Max Larkin Twitter Reporter
Max Larkin is a multimedia reporter for Edify, WBUR's education vertical.

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