DENVER, CO — Tay Anderson, 19, was the youngest person ever to run for Denver School Board when he ran a strong race — but lost– in the 2017 election. Now he’s organizing the teen March for Our Lives in Denver.
"March 24 is the day that students from Parkland will come together to protest the murders in our schools, and I wanted to answer the call for sister cities to participate," Anderson said.
Already a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for rental of a public address system and travel expenses for March For Our Lives Colorado has blown past its original fundraising goal of $2,500 and is heading toward $5,000 in less than 24 hours.
"We got the permit for the steps of the Capitol, but looking at the crowd size, we may have to move [the march] to Civic Center Park," Anderson said. "We’ve already got 17,000 people who have said they’re interested [online] and that usually means about 5,000 to 10,000 people might show up. The west steps are not an ideal location for that many people."
Students have said they coming from Boulder and northern Colorado, he said. Colorado Springs will also be organizing a separate event.
Anderson says confronting the dangers from school shootings is an issue that most people can agree on.
"It’s not a Democrat or Republican issue. I’ve had Republican’s reach out to me and tell me they support this," he said.
Colorado has had a week of school violence scares. In Grand Junction, two students were arrested after threatening to bring guns to school. Then a local 5th grader was also taken into custody for making violent threats. A Bear Creek High School teen in Lakewood was charged with misdemeanors after allegedly threatening violence on social media.
Recently a student himself, Anderson said he thinks these violence threats are partly jokes.
"But I think people are seeing what this young man did [in Florida] and saying, ‘It’s that easy, to brink a gun in and shoot up the school,’" Anderson said. "They may think it’s funny to make a joke, but no parent should live in fear of their loved ones being hurt at school, nor should a student live in that fear."
Anderson graduated from Manual, where he was student government president for three years, and joined JROTC. Then he started at Metro State University. He keeps in touch with the high school by serving as student activities coordinator at Manual. He also works as chief of staff for State Rep. Jovan Melton (Dist. 41).
The march team is seeking logistical advice from the organizers of the January Denver Women’s March. But he stresses, the event is "teen led" and he’s inviting people who want to help to meet at his alma mater, Manual High School this Saturday at 10 a.m. for an "organizer summit."
Anderson’s hoping to help with transportation at the march by sponsoring a bus from Manual or another DPS school so students can park away from downtown, he said. He’s also planning to buy one-day RTD passes for high schools to give to students who want to avoid driving and paying for parking, he said.
Anderson was the youngest candidate to ever run for Denver School Board last November, and met lots of well-wishers along the way. He is majoring in political science at Metro State and definitely has politics in his blood. Jennifer Bacon ended up winning the District 4 three-way race, but Anderson got almost 25 percent of the vote.
"My ultimate goal is to be the first African-American governor of Colorado," he told Westword during his school board campaign.
But he says the teens leading the march are working together.
"In the resistance there isn’t one designated leader, WE ARE ALL LEADERS!" he says on his Facebook page.
"I just want people to know [the March] is completely organized and sponsored by young people," he said. "We as teens can plan a successful events, our elders don’t have to doubt our leadership abilities."
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Image Courtesy: Tay Anderson