‘Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job’
This weekend saw hundreds of thousands of people take part in March for Our Lives, a student-led demonstration that took place in Washington, with over 800 sibling events around the world.
The main talking point however was the speeches, with a host of inspiration figures taking to the stage, from Yolanda Renee King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s nine-year-old granddaughter to 11-year-old Naomi Waddler who led a walkout at her primary school to bring attention to gun violence.
The most powerful speech of the day however came from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school student Emma González who made headlines for ‘calling out the BS’ to Donald Trump after her school fell victim to a shooting.
‘In a little over six minutes, 17 of our friends were taken from us, 15 more were injured, and everyone — absolutely everyone in the Douglas community — was forever altered,’ González announced to the crowd at the Washington march. ’Everyone who was there understands. Everyone who has been touched by the cold grip of gun violence understands.’
She continued: ‘For us, long, tearful, chaotic hours in the scorching afternoon sun were spent not knowing. No one understood the extent of what had happened. No one could believe that there were bodies in that building waiting to be identified for over a day. No one knew that the people who were missing had stopped breathing long before any of us had even known that a code red had been called. No one could comprehend the devastating aftermath, or how far this would reach, or where this would go.’
After speaking for less than two minutes, the 18-year-old fell silent, crying silently as she timed the same amount of time as it had taken the gunman to kill 17 of her classmates just last month.
As her timer went off, she continued: ‘Since the time that I came out here, it has been six minutes and 20 seconds. The shooter has ceased shooting and will soon abandon his rifle, blend in with the students as they escape, and walk free for an hour before arrest.’
She concluded her speech with the simple but powerful statement, ‘Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job.’