It was planned, first and foremost, to be an outpouring of anger over gun violence and a call for government action led by outraged students who survived last month’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and their supporters from across the country.
But Saturday’s March For Our Lives without a doubt also represents one of the biggest mobilizations in memory of star power coalescing around a single cause, in part to counteract the barrage of verbal attacks some of the students have come under from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and conservative interests as they press their demands for gun reform. Organizers estimate the event could draw half a million protesters or more.
Justin Timberlake released a video on social media plugging this weekend’s demonstration, flanked by Washington’s Mayor Muriel Bower. Miley Cyrus tweeted that she is planning to perform at the concert that day.
Country singer Garth Brooks on Monday spoke movingly during a Facebook Live concert about being being particularly affected by one Parkland survivor-turned-activist in particular, Emma Gonzalez, who gave an impassioned speech demanding gun control, as she wiped away tears, just days after the horrific shooting.
“I believe the young people in this country can change the world. And wouldn’t that be something?,” Brooks said. “Miss Emma… you’re the future. Our children are our future,” he said, as he debuted part of an as-yet unrecorded song in tribute to the shooting survivors.
Stars of film and stage since forever have lent their star power and donated their wealth to causes they support, more often than not liberal ones. But by any measure, this collection of A-list celebrities is exceptional.
Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, and George Clooney, according to news reports, are among the Hollywood royalty contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars to the effort.
Winfrey tweeted her support for the teens after Clooney and his wife Amal pledged half a million dollars — a sum the former talk show presenter said she would match. Winfrey said that the students who inspired Saturday’s protest reminded her of the Freedom Riders of the 1960s — young people, mostly from the North — who traveled to U.S. Southern states to help register black voters.
George and Amal, I couldn’t agree with you more. 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.
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) February 20, 2018
“We’ve had ENOUGH and our voices will be heard,” Oprah wrote in solidarity with the survivors of the February 14 high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The rampage, which left 17 people dead, sparked what is arguably the biggest anti-gun violence movement the United States has ever seen, including massive support from the entertainment world.
Broadway legend Lin-Manuel Miranda teamed up with stage star Ben Platt, lead actor of the hit musical of Dear Evan Hansen to release a new song, “Found/Tonight,” proceeds from which will benefit the protest.
“In the wake of Parkland, I was awestruck by the strength and leadership of the students and their ability to speak truth to power,” Miranda said in a statement.
“In the midst of their grief, they mobilized the youth of our nation and created a movement,” the Hamilton star and creator said. “This song is my way of helping to raise funds and awareness for their efforts, and to say Thank You, and that we are with you so let’s keep fighting, together.”
“Better gun control is something that all Americans should be passionate about,” Platt added in the statement. “These students are paving the way for future generations and it’s so inspiring to see young people standing up for what is probably the most important cause right now in this country, and demanding action.”
Stars from the world of sport have also rallied around the teens. NBA star Dwyane Wade, and his wife, actress Gabrielle Union Wade, donated $200,000 in support of the protest.
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) March 20, 2018
Jennifer Hudson, the movie star and R&B singer who lost members of her own family to gun violence in a horrific shooting wrote on Twitter last week that she is planning to take part in the march.
“I am completely inspired by the students and communities standing up for the future safety of everyone and to honor those we’ve lost from senseless acts of gun violence. I stand with you and raise my voice with yours,” the Oscar-winning singer wrote.
“Honored to perform at #MarchForOurLives in DC Mar 24 to show my support for students across the country as they take action to end gun violence.”
In 2008, Hudson’s mother, brother, and seven-year old nephew were fatally shot in her hometown of Chicago by her former brother-in-law.
News reports said that pop singers Demi Lovato and Ariana Grande, along with rap artists Common and Vic Mensa, will also be performing on Saturday.