On Monday, Jan. 20, while many students were sleeping in and looking forward to the day out of class, five excited student Pro-Life activists from Mississippi College were waking up early to catch a 7:43 a.m. flight to participate in the annual March for Life.
There was a great deal of anticipation as the extensive planning had finally led to the moment when that U.S. Airways aircraft touched down in Washington, DC. at 11:00 a.m. that morning.
Jessica Carr, Jonathan Graves, and Hunter Foster, representing MC Students for Life, joined Andrew Petersen and Mallory Montgomery, representing the Newman Club, to stand up for life at the nation’s capital.
We first hit those streets in DC not only ready to take a stand for the sanctity of human life, but also ready to do some sight-seeing. We dropped off our luggage at the Sheraton Hotel in Crystal City and soon boarded the Metro heading towards downtown DC. where we enjoyed being tourists, particularly in the National Air and Space Museum.
That first day was a blast, but the next two days were a life-changing, fully-engaging, Pro-Life experience that would forever alter the minds and hearts of each of those who had gathered together to stand up for life.
Tuesday, we joined over 2,500 students from across the U.S., who gathered in one of the largest African American Churches in America, to hear from phenomenal Pro-Life speakers at the national Students for Life of America Conference. SFLA has over 700 chapters on high school and college campuses across the U.S.
Speakers included Rev. Pat Mahoney (Christian Defense Coalition), Stephanie Gray (Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform), Ryan Bomberger (Radiance Foundation), David Bereit (40 Days for Life), and Marguerite Duane. We also heard testimonies from Pro-Life student activists on high school and college campuses, Russel Moore (Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission), Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar (Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys), SFLA leaders (Kristan Hawkins, Tina Whittington, Brendan O’Morchoe, Missy Martinez, Rebekah Barnes), among others.
We were encouraged to stand up and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. We were encouraged to be a voice for those who otherwise have no voice. The passion, compassion, excitement, intensity, and seriousness of defending preborn human beings rang very loud and clear to those in attendance.
The national SFLA Conference was amazing. Hawkins kicked off the conference by saying that abolishing abortion begins with envisioning its end. If this generation is going to abolish abortion, then we must be able to envision the Pro-Life victories necessary to win.
Gray taught the audience how to engage our fellow students in Pro-Life conversations. She also gave the best speech that I have ever heard regarding why it is important for pro-lifers to not be afraid of using graphic images.
“Pictures have a way of burning themselves into our memory,” she said.
Gray also reminded us that abortion victim photographs are an important role in the pro-life movement because those graphic images tell the story of victims whose story must be told.
Images from WWII of Jews suffering and dying in concentration camps are appalling. Images of African Americans being attacked and beaten during the Civil Rights Movement are disturbing.
Likewise, today, people often do not want to visually see the true fact that babies are being murdered in Mississippi at Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
It was a rather serious speech but appropriately so because we are dealing with a serious topic. Jason Jones, representing Movie to Movement, showed a clip from the new Pro-Life movie called Gimme Shelter, which aired recently in Madison, MS.
There was a special appearance of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, who shared their powerful personal testimony of how the Lord Jesus Christ has worked in and through their lives. We also heard from lawyers from Alliance Defending Freedom, who explained the legal rights that students have on campus to use free speech to speak out against abortion.
The Conference ended with a pep-rally and a live performance by Transform DJs. As we exited the building that night, the chants, “We Are the Pro-Life Generation” and “Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Roe v. Wade Has Got to Go!” were still fresh in our minds.
When you are from the South and standing outside in the snow waiting on a bus, there is only one rational thing to do–play in the snow, so, we took advantage of the opportunity (on multiple occasions).
We were walking around the inner city of DC at 8 a.m. ready to help pass out Pro-Life signs that declared “I Am The Pro-Life Generation” and “We Will Abolish Abortion!”
Our group of five was responsible for handing out hundreds of signs. While we walked around in the snow handing out signs, we heard from various speakers including pastors and politicians, moms and dads, and various Pro-Life activists.
We also had the privileged opportunity to help hold the very large Pro-Life banner in front of the U.S. Supreme court where the march concluded. In doing so, we were not only participants in the March for Life but also worked during the March for Life to get the word out about Students for Life.
Standing with thousands of pro-lifers in DC was a life changing experience! As a group, we were interviewed live on EWTN, a global Catholic TV network. A few hours later, I was interviewed by Fox News.
During the march, there were people as far as I could see. I have never seen so many pro-life signs before. The March for Life was a huge success and had a huge impact on our lives.
The next day, as we flew back to MC, one question dominated my mind more than any other. That question is, “Where are the others who are ready to willfully jump into the Pro-Life movement and stand for LIFE?” MC Students for Life is looking for students to arise as new Pro-Life leaders on campus! Will you answer that call?
– Jonathan Graves, Contributing Writer