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Parkland students, Chance the Rapper headline anti-violence rally, ‘Scary times’

Chicago natives Jennifer Hudson and Chance the Rapper lead the march through Auburn-Gresham | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Ogugua Odume is usually a regular at the Friday night rallies held at St. Sabina Church, but Friday, a week after her godson was shot to death, she felt it even more important to show up.

“The gun violence needs to stop, and we need to get the word out,” Odume said. “I think some kids know the importance of not picking up a gun, but some don’t know the impact of a shooting. The person who shot my godson doesn’t know the impact he’s caused on his family.”

Odume and her family were just some of the several hundred attendees at the Auburn Gresham church’s annual end-of-the-school-year rally and march.

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas joined forces with Chance the Rapper and actress Jennifer Hudson, which Father Michael Pfleger hoped would “amp up” the push for gun control and help reduce gun violence.

Video by James Foster | Chance the Rapper spoke at the Rally for Peace at St. Sabina Church.
Video by James Foster | Jennifer Hudson speaks at the Rally for Peace at St. Sabina Church.

The rally is part of the Parkland students “Road to Change” tour, which featured Parkland student who’ve been at the forefront of a renewed push for gun control since a Feb. 14 shooting at their Florida school killed 17.

The March For Our Lives “Road to Change” has more than 50 planned stops in at least 20 states in the summer of 2018. | Graphic provided
The March For Our Lives “Road to Change” has more than 50 planned stops in at least 20 states in the summer of 2018. | Graphic provided

The Friday night rally was the first stop for the students in their push for gun control measures — they’ll be in Naperville Saturday for a town hall on the same subject.

Before the event began young people chalked phrases like “enough” and “stop killing us” on the sidewalk and street outside of the church. A Divvy-esque kiosk holding assault rifles for a “metro gun share program” sponsored by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence was nearby. During the rally, the names of 147 young people who have been killed from June 15, 2017, to the present were read off.

Pfleger said this is the biggest year for the rally. Appearances by Chicago natives Chance and Hudson as well as former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Az., who was shot in the head in 2011, raised the rally to a new level and tells people to “either get on board or get out of the way,” he said.

Cardinal Blase Cupich led the opening prayer before Hudson and Chance performed. Giffords and Parkland students also spoke.

In her short time at the mic, Giffords said it was time to join forces, and voices, to get gun control.

“These are scary times,” the former congresswoman said. “It’s time for us to stand up for what’s right.”

Giffords urged those in the crowd to “protect our students and let them lead the way.”

Hudson and Chance urged young people to get involved and to stay optimistic.

“It’s so important for us to link up and talk about the stuff that’s going on here,” Chance said. “Everyone on this stage is anti-gun violence — from people in our community to people policing our community.”

Though the night was stop one for the Parkland students, it is one of many “direct actions” planned for this summer by Pfleger and the St. Sabina community.

“The Parkland students connected the dots across America, and we want to be part of the national coalition for gun reform,” Pfleger said. “We adults have failed our youth miserably, and we need them and their impatience.”

Video by James Foster | Students from Parkland, Florida spoke at the Rally for Peace at St. Sabina Church.

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