“We are demanding action. It is our time as youth in the community to make a difference. It is our time to stand up and speak out to our state and local politicians.”
– MARVELL REED, Sophomore at Barack Obama School of Career and Technical Education
Members from the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA) attended a press conference on February 28 organized by a group of students from around Southeastern Wisconsin, that included Marvell Reed explaining about a March 24 march entitled the “March for Our Lives – Milwaukee.”
The students announced that they would be joining the nationwide day of action in support of legislative effort on school gun violence, and in response to the horrific events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida. The resurgence of student activism in Parkland, around the nation, and in Wisconsin was inspiring.
Milwaukee educators wanted to support the student efforts and organized an art build to prepare well designed and durable posters and banners for the march.
Just Seeds artists Nicolas Lampert and Paul Kjelland, and University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee professor Kim Cosier collaborated with MTEA social media organizer Joe Brusky to plan and organize the art build. A date was set one week in advance of the March 24 marches for production.
Organizers made a call on social media for public school students and local artists to submit images that could be used in the march, featuring the slogan “Protect Students Not Guns.”
Students and local artists submitted several stunning images. Nearly every image was used for the final poster and banner designs, with several of the artists also volunteering their Saturday to trace and paint banners, and operate the screen print posters.
Nearly one hundred people, many of them students, came through the art build during the nine-hour window of time on March 17, including the core group of students organizing the march. Dozens of MTEA members, local artists, and community supporters also joined the collective effort.
One thousand of the “Enough” images were printed. Bay View High School students and their art teacher Bryce Coppersmith submitted the powerful design. Bryce also spent the day painting posters and banners in support of his students. The poster will be given out on a first come first serve basis before the 3/24 march.
Artist Pete Railand submitted a stunning image of two students walking to school holding hands, casting a shadow encasing the message “Protect Students not Guns.” One thousand of these posters were also screen printed and will also be distributed before the march.
Several students from Shorewood High School participated in the the art build to trace and paint three banners for their historic 50-mile march from Madison to Speaker Paul Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin. The students chose Janesville to call attention to politicians like Ryan, who take large sums of money from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and do nothing to address the growing siege of school gun violence.
Leaders Igniting Transformation students not only volunteered at the art build, but they also used the opportunity to circulate their petition to bring an end to the MPS School-To-Prison pipeline.
It was powerful to watch students, educators, artists, and community supporters working together, forging new networks, relationships, and ideas that can propel and sustain the community for what is expected to be a long fight.
The two thousand posters created will be handed out before the march at the meet-up location for the MTEA educator contingent, at the 10th Street side of the Milwaukee County Courthouse on March 24. They will be given on a first-come-first serve basis, with one poster per person.
It will be powerful to see these images, posters, and banners backing up what the students are doing locally, as part of the national effort. Together it will be possible to win common-sense reforms for Milwaukee students, and we hope the public will join us.