Washington, DC (Circa)-- Just days before thousands of students are expected to march on the nation's capital to demand gun reform, student survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. rallied at a another school in Southeast Washington, D.C., where gun violence is part of daily life for many students.
"They once said they were survivors, and we're everyday survivors," said Dontel Thompson, a senior at Thurgood Marshall Academy, a predominantly black school in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
When Zion Kelly, one of their classmates took the stage at the rally, he asked students to raise their hands if they had lost someone to gun violence. Nearly every student in the school gym raised their hands.
"Although we personally have not experienced a school shooting, we know the destruction of guns all so well," Kelly said.
This school year alone, the school lost two students to shootings. One of them, was Zaire Kelly, Zion's twin brother and the boyfriend of Lauryn Renford, another who spoke at the #NeverAgain rally on Thursday.
Zaire was killed during a robbery attempt in the city, Lauryn said.
Other students have lost parents, siblings, friends, and more.
"My 11-year-old sister witnessed a man die right in front of her eyes," said Dontel Thompson, a senior.
Sophomore Delonta Johnson said his father was killed in a shooting in 2012.
"It's sometimes really hard to talk about it," Johnson said, holding back tears.
Although these students are no strangers to gun violence, they are strangers to the media spotlight that has shone brightly on the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School since a gunman killed 17 students on Valentine's day.
David Hogg, a survivor of that shooting, blamed media bias and white privilege for the lack of attention on gun violence in communities like Southeast D.C.
"We've seen again and again the media focus on school shootings and often times be biased toward white priviledged students," he said.
Renford admitted that she has been frustrated by the way the media has covered issues of gun violence.
"Before the Parkland students came to our school I was very frustrated with the media and I even had a little resentment towards them because there were 116 deaths in the districts last year and that did not warrant national attention as 17 kids dying in Parkland, Florida," she said.
"This should have been a topic that we should be talking about before hand, before [the Parkland shooting] ever happened," Johnson said.
Many students at Thurgood Marshall Academy said they are planning to attend the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C. on Saturday to demand action from Congress on gun reform.