By Olivia Buster ’20

It’s March 24, 2018, when sophomore Mary Hutson, together with peers, walks with thousands from West Bank Park to the Ohio Statehouse as apart of the March for Our Lives movement in protest for better gun control. She carries a sign with bold lettering that reads ENO; a family friend Caroline carries its counterpart, UGH. Their message of frustration towards ENOUGH school shootings reaches an increasing number of people as the chilly day progresses.

After the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting February 14, 2018, in Parkland, Florida, survivors spoke out in support of gun regulations. Student activists such as senior Emma Gonzalez protesting for banning high capacity magazines and a mandate on universal background checks. Students outside of the Parkland survivors have joined in the effort towards more restrictions, students like Hutson.

“What I think is really interesting is how this whole gun control movement is widely controlled by kids. It gives me hope that kids are going to be listened to, that people are going to hear us and our voices are going to be heard,” Hutson said.

Besides currently advocating towards more gun control, Hutson has advocated for women’s reproductive rights, spoke out against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and in second grade supported her father, Pete Hutson, in speaking out against the closing down of her elementary school, Hubbard.

Part of Hutson’s activism is attributed from her family. It started when Hutson witnessed her father protest the foreclosure of Hubbard elementary school; a small brick building nestled in Lima, Ohio. As her father talked with reporters on television about increasing teacher pay, Mary was caught up in the troubling thought that her beloved elementary school full of memories was about to be demolished.

Although the school eventually was torn down her passion for supporting social issues continued.

The past year, Hutson wove pink hats for protesters to wear during the Women’s March in Cincinnati. Mary’s stepmother, Fran Carr, accompanied her in her efforts as an avid supporter of Women’s rights herself.

“The kinds of situations that my parents put me into. They’ve encouraged me to be more of a free thinker and to think about things logically,” Hutson said.

Along with protesting against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock last year, Hutson and her family have reached out to communities near the pipeline. At the moment three of her siblings are in Promise, South Dakota helping construct a summer camp to help lower suicide levels amongst Native American children. The organization, Veterans Stand, which Pete Hutson is a member of, will support and build the summer camp, and in the process hope to lower veteran suicide rates as well.

“The whole point of involving veterans in with this is that veteran suicide rates are extremely high right now. By grouping these two groups of suicidal parties together its lowering suicide rates in those two demographics,” explained Hutson. She will accompany her siblings in being camp counselors this Summer.

But how successful is protesting? How effective are protests when it comes to pushing for future gun regulations? AP government teacher Betsy Sidor believes that protesting can make a difference as long as it’s persistent.

“It’s a great start. But it can only be the beginning, it can’t be the end, because if it’s the end I don’t think it will make a difference. It will be the same as Sandy Hook, Columbine, it will just be over. Not easy but it’s worth it,”Sidor said.

Along with being resilient with protests students must use their power to vote once they turn 18. “To empower people to become politically active is super important,” Sidor said. According to the to The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement approximately 50% of eligible young people between the ages 18 and 29 voted in the 2016 election.

“There is something about seeing people physically protesting, but you can’t do that alone.The thing that motivates the politician is that they want to get reelected. Those votes in November are super important to them,” Sidor explained.

As March for Our Lives comes to an end Hutson returns home with a sense of hope, but concern still lingers for the future. “ We need to be doing bigger stuff, we need to be louder, we need to make our voices as loud as possible. By participating in these walkouts and staging other protests and giving speeches I think that’s the most important thing we can be doing,” Hutson said.