About 100,000 students in New York City joined their peers around the country Wednesday in walking out of class to demand lawmakers make changes on school safety and gun control.
"We live in a world where we cannot feel safe in our own schools! We must stand up for ourselves!" one student said during the walkout, locked in arm with a fellow classmate.
From 12th graders to children in grade schools, the students protested on the one-month anniversary of the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Many thousands of students in private and charter schools took, part too.
The student-led movement began after the deadly shooting in Parkland, Florida that claimed 17 lives.
City students throughout the five boroughs walked out of class at 10 a.m.
At Brooklyn Tech High School in Fort Greene, students rallied for 17 minutes, representing the 17 people killed in the Florida shooting.
Some students then made their way to Brooklyn Borough Hall, where they joined other schools for a rally.
Students spoke passionately about why they think gun control matters, and why they think this should be their generations cause.
They say they have grown up with the fear of guns in their schools, a place they should feel safe.
The kids are promising to hold officials accountable and vote when they can.
"The gun control measures I would say I advocate for is further background checks," said one student. "Background checks are incredibly important because it's not just destroying all guns ever — it's smarter hoops that people have to jump through. It's a very bipartisan issue. Gun control is bipartisan. It's not left or right. Nobody wants to see their child get shot. Nobody wants to get shot. It's a matter of stopping the people who would use weapons for bad reasons from getting those weapons."
"We feel that, even though it's not as big of a problem for our school necessarily, it hasn't happened to us, all around the country, there are so many shootings, and it's, enough is enough," said another. "It's like, they've been saying enough is enough and we need to change something because there is a huge problem."
At Columbia Secondary School in Harlem, about half the student body, grades 6 through 12, attended.
Under the watchful eye of school personnel, the students then marched to the offices of two area lawmakers who've both shown support for their cause.
"The high school students are leading the way for the college and the adults, and if gun control happens, it's because of their efforts," said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
"We are at a certain era in American history where children are acting like adults and adults are acting like children. We need to show them that children are engaged in this political process and we care about this issue," said Rusat Ramgopa, the student president at Harlem Columbia Secondary School. "Now, the Manhattan borough president, she is on local level, New York level, but Congressman Espaillat, he can affect federal change. And we saw change in New York after the LIRR shooting. George Pataki signed gun control. Andrew Cuomo signed further gun control after the Sandy Hook shooting. After this shooting, we want to see federal action done."
Hundreds of elementary school students in Brooklyn marked the day by coming together in song.
Led by their teachers, students at PS 29 in Cobble Hill took to their schoolyard during the walkout to sing a song about hope and students as changemakers.
The students range from pre-K to fifth graders.
In a letter sent home to parents, the school said that they organized the sing-along to "honor the students across the country who are standing up and using their voices to effect positive change in our communities."
The school also notes that neither the song, nor classroom discussions around it, have explicitly made mention of the Parkland tragedy or issues involving weapons in schools.
Showing solidarity with students in Lower Manhattan, Gov. Andrew Cuomo laid down in the street.
He was joined by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew.
The kids walked out from Leadership and Public Service High School. They called it a "die-in."
The governor not only marched with the kids, but chanted along as they cried out "stop the gun violence."
Cuomo praised their desire to take matters into their own hands.
"You have the students showing more leadership than the so-called leaders in Washington," he said. "This is not a complicated issue."
Mayor Bill de Blasio joined students in Brooklyn at Edward R. Murrow High School in Midwood.
During brief remarks, he told students he was proud of what they're trying to do and encouraged them to keep fighting for change.
"There's been a fight for change for a long time, but there's never been a more powerful movement than what the students of Brooklyn and New York City and this nation have done these last few weeks," de Blasio said. "You are making clear to this whole country that you are sick of the violence, sick of the madness, sick of the slaughter and you won't stand for it. I believe in my heart that change is coming because of you. I admire you. Keep fighting."
In some cities, principals threatened to suspend students who took part in the protest.
But the city education department told students that they will not face any consequences for walking out, except for a mark on their attendance record.