By Lynza McKoy, Beyond the Classroom Student
On Thursday, March 31 through Friday, April 1, 2016, President Obama welcomed world leaders from more than 50 nations and four international organizations at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC. This was a historical event that had one of the world’s largest gatherings of Heads of State designed to enhance international cooperation to prevent nuclear terrorism.
President Obama met with the world leaders to secure nuclear materials all over the world. However, at the Nuclear Security Summit, the issue of abolishing nuclear weapons was not even a topic of discussion.
No More Nukes!
As I stepped off the Metro to protest at the Nuclear Security Summit, the first thing my eyes saw was Global Zero’s inflatable nuclear missile directly in the middle of McPherson Square. Global Zero activists from all over the United States gathered in Washington, D.C. to protest this event. Along with them, women from different organizations were shouting and clapping as they were listening to the speaker. As I proceeded closer to the rally, my classmate and I immediately picked up our signs, and then began chanting along with other citizens: No More Nukes! No More Nukes!
Lynza McKoy at the Global Zero rally on April 1, 2016!
Each of us who participated in the event wanted to address the threat of nuclear weapons. There are over 15,000 nuclear weapons on this Earth, and citizens have a right to know where they are located. As long as there are 15,000 nuclear weapons in existence, on our planet, how is nuclear security possible?
Being at that rally and protesting against nuclear weapons, I got to experience for the first time what it is like to fight for something you believe in, to fight for a civic issue that matters no only to you but your family, community, and you country. Being an advocate, and standing next to people who share the same viewpoint as me, made me appreciate, that together citizens can make a change.
I do believe that we can envision a world without nuclear weapons, if each government focuses on not becoming more of a militarized society built on weapons, but instead builds a society that fosters mutual understanding and cooperation among all peoples.
Just like me, men have made many strides in technology when it comes to weapons of mass destruction. However, there may come a point in time, when technology may overrun our society and then there will be no turning back. As a citizen, I think a way to enhance security and promote the nonproliferation of weapons at a global level, is to build trust, respect, and acknowledge other countries in all aspects.
We Demand Zero!
After the Global Zero advocacy event, I spoke with a journalist from one of Washington, D.C’s. local newspapers, and shared my insights with her about why I came to this civic issue event. I am a University of Maryland College Park sophomore in Beyond the Classroom, a civic engagement and civic learning program, which prepares active and responsible citizens for leadership in a complex, multi-cultural, and global context. When I heard that there was going to be a protest against nuclear weapons in Washington, D.C., I just knew that I wanted to become engaged and make my voice heard!
Lynza McKoy is a sophomore with Beyond the Classroom, who is majoring in Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, College Park.