Led by students and survivors of the shooting which left 17 people dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the world watched and supported the demonstrations that took place in Washington, D.C. and other parts of USA. The ‘March for our lives’ rally is a call to action on gun violence and the importance of students’ safety. With so many shootings and deaths in the first quarter of 2018, students, activists and survivors of shootings expressed their frustrations in compelling and emotive speeches. However, some women stood out as they eloquently presented their speeches while they elicited various empathetic and sympathetic reactions from the audience.
Naomi Wadler, an 11-year-old fifth-grader from Alexandria, Virginia, who led a walk-out at her elementary school was on the stage to give a voice to African-American women and girls who had been silenced. In her speech she said, “I represent the African-American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential.” She also added, “I urge everyone here and everyone who hears my voice to join me in telling the stories that aren’t told – to honour the girls, the women of colour who were murdered at disproportionate rates in this nation.” Although, she acknowledged how young she and her friends were, the words she spoke made the crowd go wild like she was a younger embodiment of Oprah.
Emma González spent 6 minutes, 20 seconds on stage. Each second representing the time Nikolas Cruz spent aiming at her schoolmates. “No one could comprehend the devastating aftermath or how far this would reach or where this would go,” González said. “For those who still can’t comprehend because they refuse to, i’ll tell you where it went: right into the ground, six feet deep.” During her time on the March for Our Lives stage, she listed her slain classmates in a poem which she composed. For over 4 minutes, she didn’t speak but her silence said a lot and remains one of the most impactful statements at the protest. According to reports, she’s responsible for the loudest silence in the history of social protest in USA.
YOLANDA RENEE KING
The 9-year-old granddaughter of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, made a surprise appearance on the stage. Just like her grandfather, she also had a dream to share with the audience. She said, “My grandfather had a dream that his four little children will not be judged by the color of the skin, but the content of their character. I have a dream that enough is enough and that this should be a gun-free world, period.”
Edna Chavez who is an activist and youth leader in Los Angeles, spoke passionately about the need not only for gun law reform but also for drastic cultural change in schools. Edna, who lost her brother to gun violence, commanded the stage to give a moving speech about the trauma survivors face and the urgent need for change. She said, “I have lived in South L.A. my entire life and have lost many loved ones to gun violence. This is normal. Normal to the point that I have learned to duck from bullets before I learned how to read.” In her speech, she emphasized that more guns and more police on campuses is not the answer while stating that cops in schools are more likely to “profile and criminalize” black and brown students than to make them feel safe.
Sam was one of more than a dozen students injured last month when Nikolas Cruz attacked Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “Our mission is simple and our ambitions are unbeatable”.“Let’s keep the guns out of the hands of
the wrong people and keep them in the hands of the safe and reasonable.” she said. Fuentes ended her address, asking the crowd to join her in signing ‘Happy Birthday’ for one of her classmates, Nick Dworet, who died during the February 14 massacre and would have turned 18 on March 24. Unlike many Happy Birthday songs, this was too difficult to sing as tears rolled down and voices quivered.
The 17-year-old survivor of the Parkland, Florida, massacre, stood before thousands at the ‘March for Our Lives’ protest in Washington, D.C., to vow, “We are not here for bread crumbs. We are here for real change.” Her words were firm and unfeigned as she addressed the real purpose of the “movement”. She spoke passionately about gun control and the 17 people killed by Nikolas Cruz.
Before the day of the protest, the 17-year- old said she will be marching not only for tougher gun laws — but for the classmate whose body she hid beneath during last month’s massacre at her school. In her speech, she said “Yes, I am a Parkland survivor and an MSD student, but before this, i was a regular black girl and after this i am still black and I am still regular and i will fight for all of us.” More than anything, Aalayah sounded determined to fight for “her angels” to stop gun violence.
Written By: Tommy Monroe (@TommyMonroe_ on Twitter).