Preview: March For Our Lives Tampa to host free Bands and Ballots concert


Alanna Felton, Editor-in-Chief

Last March, over 15,000 people gathered at Kiley Square Garden in downtown Tampa for March For Our Lives, a protest calling for an end to gun violence in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Now, the organizers of March For Our Lives Tampa hope to keep the momentum of this spring’s protest going with Bands and Ballots, a free concert  at Curtis Hixon park intended to expand the dialogue surrounding gun violence this Saturday, September 15 from 5-9pm.

“Overall I think March For Our Lives Tampa has been successful in keeping the conversation up but we’re always looking for new projects and ways to attract new crowds to come and discuss the epidemic of gun violence with us,” Alyssa Ackbar (’19), one of the student leaders of March For Our Lives Tampa, said.

Robinson students Ackbar and Macy McClintock (’19) have assumed leadership of March For Our Lives Tampa now that the organization’s previous leaders, Brooke Shapiro (’18) and Macie Lavender (’18), have graduated from Plant High School. With Bands and Ballots, they hope to encourage young people to vote in the 2018 midterm elections while stressing the nonpartisan nature of gun violence.

“Gun violence has the potential to affect each and every one of us regardless of our political affiliations or personal beliefs,” Ackbar said. She hopes that people from all sides of the political spectrum will come to the concert and join the conversation.

Seven local artists will perform at the concert, including James Cole (’19), a singer and songwriter in Blake High School’s performing arts program and the Chair of the Hillsborough County chapter of the NAACP’s Youth Works committee.

“It’s going to be great for people to come, watch bands, get registered to vote, get excited to vote and make change happen,” Cole said.

Parkland survivors David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez and Sofie Whitney, who work with the national March For Our Lives movement, will also be there to deliver speeches.  Representatives from several organizations will be there to help people get more involved in ending the epidemic of gun violence. There will also be a meet-the-candidates area consisting of candidates from multiple party affiliations.

US Representative Kathy Castor encourages young people in particular to attend the concert, citing the importance of registering to vote before the upcoming midterms by the deadline of October 9.

“I’m calling on democrats, republicans, independents, anybody in this community who understands the importance of changing policies to end gun violence,” Castor said.

Since the Parkland shooting, there has been an increase in activism among teens throughout America and particularly in Florida. March For Our Lives hopes that, by registering to vote and engaging in a nonpartisan conversation about gun violence, young people will be ready to channel their words into actions come this November.

“Politics affect our lives and it’s super important that teens use their voice in important issues in our nation, ” Ackbar said.

News Editor Nicole Perdigon contributed to this article