An anti-gun rally next week in Chapel Hill is expected to draw students from area universities, as well as speakers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where a gunman killed 17 people in February.
The event, "UNC Rally for Our Lives," is planned for March 29 at 5 p.m. at Polk Place, the main quad at UNC-Chapel Hill. Students from UNC, Duke, N.C. State and Elon universities will take part. Organizers say they expect more than 1,000 people at the event, which will follow this weekend's march on Washington, Raleigh and other cities across the country.
The rally will feature speakers from Parkland, including Robert Schentrup, the brother of victim Carmen Schentrup, and two juniors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who survived the shooting. Sarah Chadwick and Jaclyn Corin have been active in the gun control movement pushed by the school's students, appearing on national television.
Joshua Romero, 19, a UNC freshman from Boca Raton, Fla.., started a group called UNC4MSD to support the high school in Parkland. He said he wanted to encourage college students to become more involved in the movement to advocate for changes in gun laws. The group has raised almost $1,000 online, and UNC students are selling bracelets to support the high school and victims of the Feb. 14 mass shooting.
Romero said he grew up about 20 minutes from Parkland and has friends from the community. One of his friends lost a cousin in the shooting.
"I just can't stand by and not do anything to help my community," Romero said.
He'd like to see college students' voices amplify the movement that has led to high school walkouts across the United States. But rallies and walkouts aren't the only ways to become involved, he said. College students could work on letter-writing campaigns and voter registration drives.
His group has lined up a number of speakers for the March 29 event, including state legislators, local elected officials and the police chief.
"Hopefully we're going to get a huge turnout and hopefully it's going to be really powerful," Romero said.