All for one and one for all, united we stand, divided we fall.” This quote said by Alexandre Dumas emphasizes the value of the word unity. As a united front, we can all come together to do great things in society. Divided, everything will fall apart and unity will be almost nonexistent. The word unite means to come or bring together for a common purpose or action. It comes from the Latin word unus meaning “one” which later changed to “unire”. It was then transformed into uniter meaning “joined together” from its’ past participle “unire”. The late Middle English term “unite” was created during the 1400-1500s. The word unite has a positive connotation, as usually when united, a stronger force or group is created in order to fix something for the better. Unite is the big word for 2018 as across the world, groups of people affected by the Black Lives Matter movement, school shootings, and the fight for equality ( women’s rights) worked together to achieve equal rights and spread awareness for their cause.
Firstly, the Black Lives Matter movement worked together in 2018 to emphasize the importance of their human rights. The Black Lives Matter movement was founded by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi in 2013 and has gained national attention in subsequent years. For instance, on March 18th, 2018, 22 year old Stephon Clark was shot in the backyard of the home he was staying in Sacramento, California. According to a press release issued by the Sacramento Police Department, Clark turned and began to “advance forward with his arms extended, and holding an object in his hands”. The officers, who believed the object was a gun, fired 20 rounds at Clark, eight of which hit him. This shooting sparked public outcry both locally and nationally. Protesters marched the streets of Sacramento calling for justice to be served for him and demanded that the city’s leadership fire the two officers involved.
Activists for the cause said that Clark’s death showed Martin Luther King Jr’s goals have yet to be met and vowed to keep protesting in the days following his death. Nearly 400 people, including those who never met Clark before, banded together to protest. “It has been 50 years, and we’re still fighting for the same things, so we’re still angry,” said Tanya Faison, a founder of Black Lives Matter Sacramento. “Everything Martin Luther King fought for, we’re still fighting for.” Their protests never had the intentions of being violent or as an act to cause problems for the people of Sacramento. Rather, their goal was to to stand up for their rights and to bring people together in honor of Stephon Clark. Through this type of unity, the community was simply attempting to work together through nonviolent civil action to pursue justice and demand reform. Yet another instance of black people coming together came from Brandon Smith, who died in police custody on the way to a main jail site in Sacramento on June 6th.
Body cam footage on one of the police officers shows Smith screaming, grunting, and then saying “ I’m f—— up. I feel like I’m having a heart attack. Oh my god.” The officer transporting Smith did not respond to his cries for help. “As he got close to the jail, he basically noticed a change in (Smith’s) movement,” said Sergeant Vance Chandler who asked the Sacramento police officer to transport Smith to the Sacramento County main jail. The officer called for emergency aid and administered CPR . From there, Smith was transported to a hospital were he was pronounced dead. This caused more protests to take place along the Sacramento streets, wanting justice for Smith. “When Sac P.D. came to pick him up, he was already inquired and in pain. They didn’t do anything to give him any type of medical attention.,” said Smith’s mother, Yolanda Ford. “They could have made sure he stayed alive by getting him medical help. They’re complicit in this… they’re complicit in his death.” Once again, the community came together to support the family of Brandon Smith and provided comfort to them in the face of their loss.
Plenty of people who gave them support did not know who he was, what kind of person he was, or what he stood for. However, they still united to support the family. Throughout the course of 2018, the shootings that took place hit the hearts of many citizens sparking the popularity #BlackLivesMatter across social media with a total of 7.7 million posts on Instagram alone and approximately 30 million times total. Even across the globe, from Europe to Africa, people around the world are marching in solidarity for America’s campaigns for racial justice and against excessive use of force by police. This unity helps to bring awareness to the cause and bring in more supporters to make their voices known and to bring people together for a common goal. Next, school shootings in 2018 brought together thousands of people in support of ending school shootings.
According to data from the US Naval Postgraduate School, there were 94 school violence incidents this year— a record high since 1970 and 59 percent higher than the previous record of 59 in 2006. Within 21 weeks into 2018, there were 23 school shootings where someone was hurt and a total of 113 were killed. One of the first school shootings to take place in 2018 was at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky. Marshall County Assistant Attorney Jason Darnall said the suspect, armed with a handgun, walked into the school at about 8:57 a.m. and started shooting. The victims of the shooting ranged from 14 to 18 years old and a total of 2 students, Bailey Holt and Preston Cope, both 15, were killed. Despite the chaos in the commons, teachers were seen grabbing kids up and helping them get into safe paces or outside leading them to a secure location. Junior Taylor Droke, who was running late to school with a friend, arrived just as students began pouring out of the school. “You could see students dropping their bags and just start running, pushing past each other,” she said.
Despite this, her and a few other courageous students stopped and gave rides to some students and loaned them a phone to call their parents. The results of this school shooting were devastating, but the support was overwhelming. People across Kentucky banded together through social media to raise donations, hold vigils, and send messages of positivity. Marshall County to motivate and uplift the school and families affected by the shooting. The hashtag “MarshallStrong” was used in more than 7,000 posts on Instagram in 2018. Along with that, big name restaurants such as Domino’s and Arby’s hoisted fundraisers and a benefit concert for the high school was held at Briensburg Baptist Church between February and March. Another example comes from a shooting in Parkland, Florida. On February 14th in Stoneham Douglas High School, Nickolas Cruz entered the school carrying a rifle and killed 17 people in about six and a half minutes. This marked the sixth school shooting of 2018 in the U.S. and was the worst since 2012, when gunman Adam Lanza attacked Sandy Hook Elementary School.
However, the Parkland shooting ignited a youth-led anti-gun movement that swept the nation. Within the days following the shooting, the #NeverAgain movement gathered support on social media and sparked countrywide protests for tighter gun control. On Saturday, March 24, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators turned out for the March For Our Lives, a massive public protest in support of gun control. One of the most prominent advocates for the movement is Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the shooting. After listing the names of all those who died in the school shooting, she stood at the podium for 6 minutes and 20 seconds in silence (the amount of time it took for 17 lives to be taken.) Gonzalez was the last speaker at the rally and definitely left and impact on the crowd, as many were seen in tears as they listened to her words.
When it comes to the overall support for stronger gun laws, there was a significant spike as support reached 67 percent up from 60 percent in October of 2017. More and more Americans sent out their love and support to all schools and families affected by school shootings. Many Americans united in support for gun control and better safety precautions in schools to protect students. Despite the tragedies faced across the U.S., the students, parents, and faculty were not alone in their fight for justice. Lastly, women across the globe fought for equal rights. For example, women have made progress on abortion laws. While abortion laws are still limited in many countries around the world, women’s human rights activists and organizers have gained a few wins in 2018. In Ireland, thousands of Irish citizens mobilized and successfully voted to repeal Article 8, which enshrined a near-total ban on abortion in the country’s constitution in May of 2018. The Irish electorate voted by 1,429,981 votes to 723,632 in favor of abolishing the controversial eighth amendment in their constitution.
That results to a total of 66.4% yes versus 33.6% no. After a 35 years struggle for women to change the law, they finally terminated the law. In addition to that, another example comes from Argentina in June 2018. Hundreds of thousands of supporters of abortion rights flooded the streets of Buenos Aires in support of a law that would legalize abortion. Under Argentine law, in place since 1921, abortion is legal only cases of rape or if the pregnancy poses a risk to the woman’s health. Nevertheless, women in Argentina are still having abortions. Health Minister Adolfo Rubinstein has estimated more than 350,000 clandestine abortions every year. Complications in these abortions are the leading cause of maternal deaths in the country, with about 45,000 to 60,000 women hospitalized each year due to complications from these procedures. Although the law ultimately failed in the Senate, it passed in Congress, an unprecedented achievement, and demonstrated that the public united in support of abortion rights.
Restrictions to abortion rights restrict women’s fundamental self-determination and control of their bodies, lives, and destinies. There are nearly 25 million unsafe abortions globally every year- almost 45% of all total abortions. Through women coming together to fight for their abortion rights, they successfully made changes in the laws within their country. Another example of women’s rights comes from girls and teenagers searching for their voice in society. Girls across the globe are questioning the status quo of who they should and shouldn’t be. More than 130 million girls under 18 around the world are not in school, due to gender bias, conflict, cost, early marriage, and economic pressure on them to work. Furthermore, half of all sexual assaults are committed against girls under the age of 15 and an estimated 10 million girls are married before they turn 18 (often with no say in the matter.)
Although affected by global trends such as closing civic space, sexism, and ageism, girl activists are reshaping organizational structures and shunning hierarchical models for more inclusive decision making. Throughout the course of 2018, girls demanded the opportunity to realize their rights and live to their full potential. From advancing sustainable development in Mexico to working against child marriage in Pakistan, girls are working together in order to change the world for the better. To aid in their struggle, the Global Fund for Women launched the Adolescent Girls Fund, a multi-year initiative designed to expand and deepen focus on adolescent girls ages 10-19, strengthen movements led by girls in sustaining their rights, and fostering mutual learning for adolescent girls.
Together, these girls are united and striving to reform perceptions on women and proving their strength and leadership skills. Overall, through movements made for Black Lives Matter, school shootings, and equality in women's rights, unite is the big word for 2018. As seen in 2018, unity helped bring awareness for rights on abortion, gun control, and the lives of black citizens across the world. The combined effort made globally aided the advancement and improvement of these rights. Moving into 2019, unite will continue to bring together thousands of people for a common cause. If people globally can work together once again throughout the course of 2019, more changes could take place to make the world a better place.
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