Watch 11-Year-Old Naomi Wadler’s Stirring Speech About Gun Violence and Girls of Color From the March For Our Lives
Naomi Wadler, one of the many young speakers at the March for Our Lives, is an eleven-year-old from Alexandria, Virginia. She and her friend Carter led a walkout at their school, but they added an extra minute to the 17 minutes for the 17 Parkland victims in order to honor Courtlin Arrington, a young black girl who was killed at her high school after the Parkland shooting. Wadler’s speech highlighted the disparities faced by women of color, who are more likely to suffer gun violence but less likely to have their deaths and names publicized in the media.
“I am here today to acknowledge and represent the African-American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper,” said Wadler, “whose stories don’t lead on the evening news. I represent the African-American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential.”
“It is my privilege to be here today,” she continued. “I am indeed full of privilege. My voice has been heard. I am here to acknowledge their stories, to say they matter, to say their names, because I can, and I was asked to be. For far too long, these names, these black girls and women, have been just numbers. I’m here to say, ‘Never again’ for those girls, too. I am here to say that everyone should value those girls, too.”
“People have said that I am too young to have these thoughts on my own. People have said that I am a tool of some nameless adult. It’s not true. My friends and I might still be eleven, and we might still be elementary school, but we know. We know life isn’t equal for everyone, and we know what is right and wrong. We also know that we stand in the shadow of the capitol, and we know that we have seven short years until we, too, have the right to vote. So I am here today to honor the words of Toni Morrison: ‘If there is a book that you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.’ I urge everyone here and everyone who hears my voice to join me in telling the stories that aren’t told, to honor the girls, the women of color who are murdered at disproportionate rates in this nation. I urge each of you to help me write the narrative for this world and understand, so that these girls and women are never forgotten.”
This is a speech that no eleven-year-old should have to make, and it is disgusting and deeply shameful that America is the type of country where she has to. But speeches and marches like this also remind us that thousands of Americans who are asked to do awful, impossible things—things like fight for the healthcare, safety, and civil rights that every human should be entitled to—routinely and repeatedly get up and do them, in order to make a better world. They deserve better politicians and a better country.
There will doubtless be more great signs and speeches to feature throughout today, but I wanted to start with this one.
(Via CBS News; featured image: screengrab)
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