Margaret Murphy oral history interview, 2020 July 30
Margaret Murphy, a UNC Charlotte rising junior, university chapter Director for March For Our Lives, (MFOL) and Co-Director for North Carolina MFOL, discusses her experiences related to April 30, 2019 when a gunman opened fire in a classroom on the UNC Charlotte campus. Ms. Murphy was visiting a friend at Elon College when the incident occurred and she relays her emotional reaction to the 49er alert message, "Run, Hide, Fight" that first informed her of the crisis unfolding on campus and which she felt was triggering rather than helpful. Ms. Murphy reflects on the impact of many years of lock down drills she experienced while in grade school, and she describes how she first became involved with MFOL as a junior in high school. Inspired by activists who were in her own generation, Ms. Murphy organized a MFOL group at her high school to participate in the national March for Our Lives demonstration of March 2018. Ms. Murphy describes how in her freshman year at UNC Charlotte she joined the nascent MFOL student organization that was founded by Cade Lee in March 2019, and how she took on the role of Outreach Coordinator. Immediately following the April 30 shooting members of the organization and supporters gathered to plan a rally for Friday May 3rd. Working for two days almost round the clock the organizing group, which consisted of about ten individuals, were able to assemble an impressive line-up of speakers representing UNC Charlotte constituents and local, regional, and national elected officials. In addition to Ms. Murphy herself, speakers included student survivor Megan Beach; Student Body President Kristine Slade; Mecklenburg County Commissioner and UNC Charlotte professor, Susan Harden; Charlotte City Council Member-at-Large Dimple Ajmera; Charlotte City Council Member-at-Large Braxton Winston; North Carolina State Senator for District 40, Joyce Waddell; Director of the UNC Charlotte Center for Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Studies, Dr. John Cox; and Congresswoman for the 12th District of North Carolina, Representative Alma Adams. Ms. Murphy notes that the organizing committee were disappointed that Charlotte's Mayor Vi Lyles declined to communicate with the group. Following the rally she and several other members of MFOL travelled to uptown Charlotte to take part in a NAACP rally also calling for gun control. She reflects on the effective organization of this rally, which brought into focus wider community issues around gun control and the disproportionate impact of gun violence on black and brown communities. Ms. Murphy concludes the interview with reflections on how she has come to see gun violence as a highly complex and dynamic issue that is affected by many other societal issues, including affordable housing, unequal job opportunities, and homelessness. She also summarizes her plans for the upcoming semester as the Director of the UNC Charlotte MFOL chapter, stressing an intention to connect with other social justice groups on campus to offer a platform for working on and giving a voice to intersectional issues.