“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, Barack Obama School of Career and Technical Education sophomore
On February 28, we attended a press conference organized by a group of students from around Southeastern Wisconsin, including Marvell announcing a March 24th march entitled the “March for Our Lives – Milwaukee.” The students announced they would be joining the nationwide day of action in support of legislative action 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 here in Wisconsin is inspiring. Milwaukee educators wanted to support the students’ efforts and organized an art build to prepare 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. Organizers made a call on social media for public school students and local artists to submit images to be used in the march using 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 run and screen print posters.
Nearly one hundred people, many students, came through the art build during the nine-hour Saturday time window, including the core group of students organizing the march. Dozens of MTEA members, local artists, and community supporters also joined the collective effort.
1,000 of these “Enough” images were printed. Bay View High School students and their art teacher Bryce Coppersmith submitted this 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 this stunning “Protect Students not Guns” image of two students walking to school holding hands casting a shadow encasing the message “Protect Students not Guns.” 1,000 of these posters were also screen printed and will too be given out before the march.
This powerful “Text Message” image was submitted by Milwaukee School of the Arts student Ana Branderhorst.
Milwaukee student Trenice Ferguson submitted this moving image of a peaceful school community nestled on the inside of a hand gun.
MTEA retired member Susan Simensky-Bietila and her son painted this image, submitted by Susan’s 7-year old granddaughter, on a banner.
UWM art education teacher Kim Cosier submitted this banner design, which was painted on two banners.
Several students from Shorewood High School also joined the art build to trace and paint three banners for their sure to be historic 50-mile march from Madison to Rep. Paul Ryan in 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.
It was powerful to watch students, educators, artists, and community supporters working together, forging new networks, relationships, and ideas that can propel and sustain us all for this sure to be long fight.
The 2,000 posters created will be handed out before the march at the meet-up for the MTEA educator contingent (10th St. side of the Milwaukee County Courthouse) on Saturday on a first-come-first serve basis (One poster per person). It will be powerful to see these images, posters, and banners backing up the great organizing students are doing locally as well as nationally. Together we will win common-sense reforms for our students. We hope you will join us.
More photo from the art build here.