By Taylor McLamb
On March 24, people from all over the world took to the streets for March of Our Lives, a nationwide movement to protest gun violence launched by survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. According to their website, “March for Our Lives is created by, inspired by, and led by students across the country who will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar.” Students should be worrying about mundane things like whether they left their calculator at home or if they’ve picked the right dress for prom, not whether or not they’re going to lose their life to the hands of a AK-47. Students who should be using poster board for class project are using it to make posters for rallies, becoming activists too early in life. While it’s tragic to know that we’ve let our children down, the voices who have risen in this troubling time give us hope for the future. Here are just a few of the young speakers who are going to change the world:
Emma González is one of the leading forces behind the #NeverAgain movement, becoming viral after a video surfaced of her calling out the National Rifle Association just three days after the shooting. She was strong, unapologetic and brave, using her horrific experience to cut the audience with her words. Emma showcased the impact of spoken word by hardly speaking at all during DC’s March for Our Lives, where she recited the names of her classmates who had been killed and then said nothing for four minutes and 26 seconds. With tears in her eyes, Emma bravely looked forward at the camera, almost like she was personally addressing the politicians she was calling out. When the moment was over, a timer went off and she announced that at the moment, the shooter had ceased fire, placing the audience in her shoes. Watch the powerful speech here.
Eleven-year-old Naomi Wadler walked across the stage in Washington, D.C. to deliver a speech with more inspiration, confidence and hope than any current politician in the White House.
“I represent the African-American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential,” said Wadler. While she’s only in the 5th grade, Wadler has proven to be a trailblazing activist, as she organized a walkout at her own elementary school to honor the lives that were lost due to gun violence. Wadler’s vigor and dedication towards change sent Twitter into a frenzy, where hundreds of people were calling Wadler their future president. Watch Wadler’s video here.
Yolanda Renee King
Just 50 years after Martin Luther King Jr. lost his own life to gun violence, his granddaughter, 9-year-old Yolanda Renee King entered the stage to condemn the usage of semiautomatic rifles, referencing her own grandfather’s famous speech in the process.
“I have a dream that enough is enough and that this should be a gun free world, period,” said King. While smiling optimistically at the large crowd, King led the audience in a chant that would surely make her grandfather proud. “Spread the word. Have you heard? All across the nation. We…are going to be…a great generation.” Watch the video here.
Parkland shooting survivor Samantha Fuentes is just one example of the strength and stamina of women. While delivering an powerful speech about her experience, Fuentes paused to take a moment to throw up and then immediately picked up where she left off.
“I just threw up on national television and it feels great!” Fuentes joked. In unison with 500,000 attendees, Fuentes led an emotional singing of ‘Happy Birthday’ for one of her classmates, Nick Dworet, who had died during the shooting and would have been 18-years-old on the day of the march. Watch the video here.