Rachel Iribe remembers a young girl staring at her intently during the March for Our Lives rally in Los Angeles on March 20. The child sat atop her father’s shoulders, her head bobbing as the crowds moved through Downtown L.A. The girl’s eyes did not stray while Iribe led the throng toward Pershing Square.
“That moment put everything into perspective for me… It’s for the future generations,” Iribe said. “This is what I am going to fight for… I don’t want anyone else to go through something as horrible as [the Parkland, Florida shooting].”
Iribe, 18, and Skye Wagoner, 22, are the Co-Directors of March for Our Lives California. The two oversee a board of eight students and over 20 MFOL chapters in schools and cities across California. The board meets monthly to discuss MFOL California’s goals and initiatives.
Motivated by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students’ activism, Iribe helped organize her high school’s walkout in March. Iribe, now a first-year student at the University of California, Irvine, was chosen as a speaker at the MFOL L.A. protest in March.
Wagoner, a junior at California State University, Long Beach, led local anti-gun violence efforts in Orange County before joining MFOL’s efforts. Wagoner participated in MFOL’s August “National March on the NRA” at the National Rifle Association’s headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia. Wagoner also led a vigil in honor of victims of the May 18 shooting at Santa Fe High School which left 10 students and teachers dead.
Both Iribe and Wagoner were involved with MFOL’s Road to Change initiative, which aimed to register and inform young voters ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. They expressed optimism in the wake of the midterm’s youth turnout and election results.
“After the midterms, I do feel very empowered,” Iribe said. “Things are changing. A lot of people are more aware…that there can be change.”
Wagoner stressed that anyone can join MFOL’s efforts against gun violence.
“Gun violence shouldn’t be a partisan issue. If we all participate in trying to fight gun violence, I think we will get a better world out of it,” Wagoner said. “We’re not trying to support or endorse any party; we like to say that we’re trying to flip everything orange.”
In the near future, Wagoner said MFOL California will introduce new lobbying initiatives to “strengthen common sense gun laws.” Both Iribe and Wagoner advocate for universal background checks at every point of sale. They also hope to raise awareness for issues surrounding mental health.
Iribe and Wagoner encouraged fellow young people to get involved in issues they care about.
“Don’t wait for someone else to do it. If you see a problem, be the one to take care of it,” Iribe said. “We are taking our power back and we are going to do what we can for our generation and the generations to come.”