Lift Every Voice and Rally
On Sept. 25 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. students across Oregon, concerned citizens, and even a llama named Cesar rallied outside the Salem Capitol to discuss laws that will reduce gun violence in the state of Oregon. The event was organized by a Portland non-profit called “Lift Every Voice In Oregon.” This organization encouraged legislators to answer questions that young people may have about gun control. At the event there were speakers from different organizations such as Lift Every Voice Oregon, Ceasefire Oregon, and Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon. There were also various musicians who performed songs discussing political activism.
The name “Lift Every Voice Oregon” is derived from the Black National Anthem “Lift Every Voice And Sing.” The original poem was written by James Weldon Johnson and later composed by John Rosamond Johnson. The song is significant for African Americans who have overcome many obstacles. The title itself encourages people to stand up for what they believe in. The leaders of Lift Every Voice Oregon encourage young people to take a stand against gun violence.
“You are the leaders of America. You are not the future leaders of America. You are leaders right now… Keep speaking out and don’t be afraid.” Knutson said.
Angelique Prater ’20, a student from South attended this event on behalf of her new Progressive Activism Club [PAC]. She went to protest the lack of restrictions on carrying assault weapons.
“We see gun violence in schools, homes, and public settings, ultimately creating the normalization of it. However, we do not deserve to die at the hands of those who want to keep their weapons of war,” Prater said.
While many were there for Lift Every Voice Oregon, there was also a counter-protest organized by an organization called “Good Guys with Guns.” One of the co-founders of this organization, Kevin Conzo, believes that stricter gun control laws would be a violation of his constitutionally guaranteed second amendment rights.
“We are here to make a stand to show that Lift Every Voice does not represent everyone’s voice, contrary to their name,” Conzo said.
Other attendees at the rally for Lift Every Voice Oregon were Larry McCool and his llama Cesar from Mystic Llama Farms. McCool often takes his llama to different events to spread positive energy. The llama gave people another incentive to speak up and stay focused on the fight for gun reform.