Halfway into 2018, nearly 6,000 people have died in gun-related incidents, with almost 11,000 more injured. In just these past six months, we’ve seen 107 mass shootings, many of which have dominated the news cycle for weeks and months at a time: 17 dead in at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida; 10 dead in Santa Fe, Texas. Despite the walkouts, protests, and public outcry these events engendered, Congress has been loath to act. So this year, national Wear Orange Weekend takes on more urgent significance.
What is Wear Orange Day?
In 2013, a 15-year-old girl named Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed in a Chicago park. At the time, Hadiya was a volleyball player, an honor roll student, and a drum majorette who’d just performed at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration. Now, as her friend, youth organizer Nza-Ari Khepra, explained at the New York City March for Our Lives demonstration for gun control this spring, “Hadiya is remembered with the sound of a gunshot.” Her death incited her circle of friends to action.
“After we lost Hadiya, there were a lot of emotions going on,” Khepra told CNN in 2015. “The conversation motivated students and community members to get involved.”
Pendleton’s friends formed Project Orange Tree in the wake of the shooting, a push to educate youth about gun violence. In 2014, Project Orange Tree joined with Everytown for Gun Safety—per its website, “a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities,” formed in response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2013—and convened the first annual Wear Orange Day on June 2, 2015, which would’ve been Pendleton’s 18th birthday.
The organizers opted for orange, the color hunters don to increase their visibility in the woods, to communicate that they aren’t human targets. As Everytown puts it, orange is “a color that demands to be seen”—ideally, by politicians empowered to actually change firearm laws across the country, who’ve taken note of the crowds dressed in orange flooding public spaces all weekend long.
How do I participate in Wear Orange Weekend?
Although Wear Orange Day is today, also known as National Gun Violence Awareness Day, Wear Orange Weekend will extend through Sunday. Participation is simple: Basically, find something orange to wear, possibly to one of the many events planned in various cities around the country (more on that soon). You can also do as the celebrities do—Kim Kardashian, Julianne Moore, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Spike Lee, and many more are all supporters—and post a selfie of you in your orange outfit to social media.
If you go that route, you might consider uploading your photo to Everytown’s website, but definitely include #WearOrange in your caption when you share the photo. The one thing we know for certain these days is that the president’s eyes are always glued to Twitter, so there’s reason to believe he might notice a trending hashtag. Noticing is not the same as caring or doing anything, of course, but a girl can dream.
It’s #NationalGunViolenceAwarenessDay & I #WearOrange because 96 people are shot and killed in an average day in America & for every 1 person killed with guns, 2 more are injured. As 9-year-old Yolanda Renee King said @ #marchforourlives, “I have a dream that enough is enough.” pic.twitter.com/6tsTIDptGW
— Katie Couric (@katiecouric) June 1, 2018
— Amer Acad Pediatrics (@AmerAcadPeds) June 1, 2018
Where to participate in National Wear Orange Weekend
Local organizers have coordinated activities— picnics, marches, vigils, cookouts, and more—in cities across the country, throughout the weekend. To figure out what’s scheduled in your community, you can search the database on Everytown’s website.