Oprah Winfrey has pledged to donate half a million dollars to the March for Our Lives. The march is being orchestrated by the survivors of a Florida school shooting and will aim to pressure lawmakers to legislate stricter gun laws. Winfrey commended the students and said that they reminded her of activists from the Civil Rights era.
On Feb. 14, a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In the wake of the massacre, several students who survived the ordeal vocally called on lawmakers to pass new gun regulations to curb the rate of mass shootings. They have dubbed their movement #NeverAgain.
On Feb. 18, the students announced that they were organizing a nationwide protest against current gun laws.
“People are saying that it’s not time to talk about gun control,” junior Cameron Kasky told ABC News. “And we can respect that. Here’s a time. March 24th in every single city. We are going to be marching together as students begging for our lives.”
On Feb. 20, George and Amal Clooney announced that they would donate $500,000 to students and take part in the rally. Winfrey took to social media and said that she would match their donation, the Sun-Sentinel reports.
“George and Amal, I couldn’t agree with you more,” Winfrey tweeted out. “I am joining forces with you and will match your $500,000 donation to ‘March For Our Lives.’ These inspiring young people remind me of the Freedom Riders of the 60s who also said we’ve had ENOUGH and our voices will be heard.”
The Freedom Riders were Civil Rights activists who protested against Southern segregation in the 1960s. They would enter segregated localities and would often be subjected to violent retaliation, according to Smithsonian.com.
Public relations expert Chris Allieri of the consultancy firm Mulberry and Astor said that the Parkland students’ activism was unprecedented in the gun control movement.
“We’ve never seen a group of victims and survivors come together so quickly and be so organized and so savvy,” Allieri told the Financial Times.
The PR consultant asserted that the students had an edge over older activists because they were raised in in the era of social media.
“They’ve taken on all of these aspects of Black Lives Matter, of #MeToo, of the Women’s March,” Allieri continued. “They were immediately organized, immediately present on social media. They have a media savvy and an awareness of the cameras. They have hashtags.”
On Feb. 21, the Parkland students disclosed that March For Our Lives demonstration had already amassed $3.5 million, fueled by some big checks cut by celebrities like Winfrey and the cumulative donations made by over 18,000 people.
“Donations will be used to pay the expenses associated with the [March 24] March For Our Lives gathering in Washington, D.C., and to provide resources for young people organizing similar marches across the country,” a spokesperson for the march told the Miami Herald. “Any leftover funds will go towards supporting a continuing, long-term effort by and for young people to end the epidemic of mass shootings that has turned our classrooms into crime scenes.”