With the help of her former art teacher Kate DeCiccio, Gilliam transformed her traumatic experience into a poster, one in a series that was distributed to students for the weekend event.
"Help me save lives," it says. "Gun violence almost took mine."
"It's one thing to create a visual with powerful words to reach the people, but it's also one thing to be featured in the poster telling your story visually," Gilliam told CNN. "I wanted people to actually see what gun violence has done to my family and I."
The posters were curated by Amplifier
, a design lab based in Seattle that fuses art and activism. The organization gave away more than 40,000 posters nationwide for participants to carry as they marched for stricter gun legislation.
"While the battle for gun reform has been going on for years, especially within black and brown communities most affected by gun violence, we have never seen this level of national energy around gun reform," Program Director Cleo Barnett told CNN. "We knew that this was the moment for real change and we wanted to support the people on the ground pushing for policy change."
Amplifier designated seven cities around the country where protesters could pick up posters. They were also free to download
on their website.
All of the artwork focus on the experiences of young people who have been negatively impacted by firearms, like Gilliam.
On November 30, 2015, she was hit by a stray bullet while at a gas station near her apartment in Charlotte, North Carolina. Gilliam was in the process of transferring to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to pursue a degree in pediatrics at the time. Her injury forced her to halt her studies, she said.
Many of the designs were submitted by students themselves during an open call held by Amplifier in early March.
DeCiccio believes that conveying these messages from a subjective point-of-view allows people to empathize more than they would from reading statistics.
One piece paid tribute to the black youth movements
that began protesting shootings years ago.