I didn’t want to hassle with parking and the large crowd expected in downtown Atlanta for the “March For Our Lives” planned for the city.
March organizers had a contingency for people like me. There were several march venues in the metro area. I noticed there was a site at Benjamin E. Mays High School near my home in Cascade Heights.
I drove over to Mays High School where I had no problem finding a parking space. I was met by three ladies who had come from one of the suburbs south of the city. They settled on the Mays venue because it was closer to their home. The ladies were Lutherans. It appeared they were on a crusade to bring awareness to the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther tacting the 95 Theses on the door of the church at Wittenberg on October 31, 1517
The Lutherans were especially upset that an ecumenical council had issued a joint statement last year on the actual anniversary date, positing that Luther’s reformation of the Catholic Church was wrong headed.They gifted me a book on the subject, The Great Controversy: Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Great Protestant Reformation.
One of them would not take my averment that I was knowledgeable about the Protestant Reformation. She insisted upon teaching me history I had learned during sixth grade world history back in 1964, never missing a beat insulting my intelligence.
“Have you heard of Martin Luther. I don’t mean Martin Luther King, Jr.,” she said three or more times.
“Yes, I know who you are talking about,” I replied three or more times.
On the next time she wanted to make sure that I knew she was not talking about Martin Luther King, Jr., I stopped her in mid-sentence.
“You mean Martin Luther who tacked the 96 theses on the door of the church at Wittenberg,” I asked.
“Oh, it was 93,” she replied.
Not wanting to embrassass her by pointing out that she did not know the exact number was 95, and that I had merely used the number 96 to see if she would correct me correctly, I replied, “I was just testing you.”
Never letting on that I knew the correct number of posits made by Martin Luther on that historic day, or that I knew she did not know the actual number, we laughed.
Then the Lutherans decided that the crowd at Mays High was too small for their purposes, so they left to drive 90 miles northwest of Atlanta to a march venue in Dalton, Georgia, where a school teacher had fired his hand gun inside a high school class room a week after the Parkland, Florida Massacre.
As these ladies took their leave for bigger and more expressive marchs, I was soon joined by TJ and his wife from Villa Rica, and Jaela Reese, a 17 year old student at Westlake High School in College Park, Georgia. She came with her mom and aunt. Reverend Brian Tillman, associate minister at Benhill United Methodist Church arrived, as did Lutheran pastor Ronald Bonner the author of No Bigotry Allowed: Losing the Spirit of Fear.
Then Dr. Rad, a 2014 candidate for the U S Senate from Georgia, appeared with his wife. All total about 20 people showed up to march for the lives of the children. Instead of speeches by the movers and shakers in the “Never Again Movement” we stood in a circle in the Mays parking lot, introduced ourselves to one another and told why we felt it was important to attend the rally.
There was a sense of community in that circle. Our student Jaela, said, “I do not like the idea of teachers having guns.” She propelled into motion a discussion over whether arming teachers was a good idea. To a man, woman and child, the Mays “Marchers to save our lives” resolved that teachers with guns was a bad idea.
Rev. Boone, said that in his youth he was a member of the NRA, but he did not believe more guns was the solution to violence in our schools and society.
Rev. Tillman believed that beyond the march, we have to lobby lawmakers on the state and local level to get common sense gun control measures enacted.
Also, Tillman said: “Every country in the world have mental health issues, but every country in the world does not have our problems with gun violence.
Dr. Rad, a psychiatrist called BS on the notion that mental health measures are the solution to the problem.
A young man from Fairburn said, “I am sick and tired hearing on the news about someone getting killed.”
“Why is it that the U S is the number one country in the world,but is not number one in solving gun violence,” the man from Fairburn queried.
Diana, a teacher’s wife said she did not like the idea of teachers carrying guns.
After our discussion on the issues, the group marched through a nearby community. People came out to learn why this march was taking place and the marchers were able to share their message that “Never again” should we allow a gunman to shoot up a school in America.
At the conclusion of the march it was agreed that the group would stay in contact on the gun control issue as well as on other issues.
As I drove out of the Mays parking lot, I savored the warm communal feeling I had just experienced with people, except for Dr. Rad, a couple of hours before, I didn’t know existed.
Also, I could not help but wonder what would have happened if the proselytizing Lutherans had not moved on to a larger march venue?
Would they have disrupted the mood of the 20 who assembled under one accord and had resolved to meet again as an active force in the movement for change in the human condition?
It’s not how large the crowd, but how committed are those who show up that counts.
Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine and Black College Nines. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org