After 17 people were killed at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day, Ole Miss senior Alexa Johnson held a march for the victims. From the steps of Farley Hall, she spoke to a crowd of about 100 people.
Alexa graduated from Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2014 and wanted to honor her former school here in Oxford.
“The community of Oxford and the community of Parkland are so similar,” Johnson said. “They’re close-knit, friendly and kind communities, and I know that if something like this happened in a place like Oxford or elsewhere in the nation, I know that Parkland would be there doing the same exact thing.”
After a speech on the Farley steps, the crowd made its way to the Walk of Champions and marched through the Grove and to the Lyceum. Cameras were rolling, and a video of the march was sent to Ty Thompson, principal of Majory Stoneman Douglas High School, to show support.
The event was supported by the Meek School of Journalism and New Media with many of its teachers and staff present. IMC Instructional Assistant Professor Debbie Hall was one of many to march through the Walk of Champions.
“I’m proud of our young people for doing this and taking a stand,” she said, “not just in favor of doing something to make our schools safer, but to show support for the students at Parkland.
“We have two students who were directly affected by that. They both have been to school there, but one of them actually had a younger sister in the building. I just think its great to show support for those students who are hurting.”
The march started at 7 p.m. as rain began to fall. Hall was pleased with the number of people, despite the weather. “When its raining, people are not going to get out and walk, and yet they did,” she said. “As I heard one person say, it’s the least we can do.
“I want to encourage young people to stand tall. I came from a generation where young people made a difference in the Vietnam War, and we can make a difference in keeping our schools safe.”
Ole Miss senior Alexandra Morris was one of many students who participated.
“I’m so glad people showed up despite the rain,” she said. “I thought Alexa’s words were very powerful and moved everyone there. I hope it brings joy to [the victims] knowing the Ole Miss family and the Oxford community are standing with them”
With staff, students, and locals demonstrating support from the University of Mississippi and the Oxford community, the crowd chanted “We stand with you” on the Lyceum steps for the video that will be sent to victims. Students returned to class in Florida Wednesday, and Johnson wanted them to feel as comfortable as possible.
“They are going back to school for their first day,” she said, “and walking in those doors after the massacre happened, they need as much support as possible. I wanted my second family at Ole Miss to support my first family, and they did 100 percent tonight, and I couldn’t be any happier about this event.”
Johnson had apprehensions about the turnout, but she was pleasantly surprised at the number who attended.
“It’s definitely more than I thought,” she said, “and I’m so grateful for each and every one of them. Like I said, these people are my family. I don’t know them, but they are still my family for coming here tonight and just being there for a community that they might not even know of, but they’re still here showing support for the victims and the students and faculty, so I am so grateful for that.”
Classes have resumed at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School, but the freshman building, where the shooting took place, will remain closed indefinitely.
Photos and story by Brian Barisa, Oxford Stories.