Why shoes?

“If the shoe fits, wear it.” “Walk in their shoes.” “Nobody can fill their shoes.”

Shoes are personal, everyday items.
Shoes tell something about every man, woman and child.
Shoes are a simple, eloquent human symbol.

We find them as powerful symbols of loss — in Holocaust museums, in poetry, and, sadly, in our own lives. The visual concept for the Silent March — empty shoes as symbols of individual gun victims – was first used in a demonstration held in 1993 by a New York anti-gun violence group (now New Yorkers Against Gun Violence) in front of then-Senator Alfonse D’Amato’s office, prior to the Brady Bill vote in Congress. At that event, we used shoes to show that the lives of real people, not statistics, were at stake. Shortly thereafter, the Silent March was born.

The Silent March has undertaken four national public education campaigns, using empty shoes as our symbol: in 1994, 1996, 1998, and now in 2000.

Some of the shoes are the actual shoes of gun victims, sent by mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, grandparents and neighbors. Others shoes are sent by people who’ve never been hurt or threatened by a firearm-and don’t want to be. Some are sent in memory, some in protest.