Naomi Wadler, an 11-year-old girl from Alexandria, Virginia, thrilled hundreds of thousands when she spoke out for “the African-American girls who don’t make the front page of every national newspaper” at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, DC, on Saturday.
“I am here today to represent Courtlin Arrington,” Wadler said. “I am here today to represent Hadiya Pendleton. I am here today to represent Taiyania Thompson, who at just 16 was shot dead in her home here in Washington, DC. I am here today to acknowledge the African-American girls who don’t make the front page of every national newspaper, 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.”
On March 14, Wadler led a walkout at George Mason Elementary School to honor the victims of gun violence that lasted 18 minutes— 17 to commemorate the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, and an extra minute for Courtlin Arrington, a 17-year-old senior killed by gun violence earlier this month in Birmingham, Alabama.
11-year old Naomi Wadler: "My friends and I might still be 11, and we might still be in elementary school but we know… that we stand in the shadow of the Capitol, and we know that we have 7 short years until we too have the right to vote." (via CBS) pic.twitter.com/57tmzKBss4
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 24, 2018
Wadler spoke to loud cheers and was remarkably poised. “For far too long, these names, these black girls and women, have been just numbers,” she said. “I’m here today to say never again for those girls, too.”
Naomi Wadler is currently standing in the gap for all of the black girls and black women who are victims of gun violence. All the black girls and Black women who don’t get a hashtag and who don’t become front page news. Thank you Naomi. #MarchForOurLives
— Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) March 24, 2018
Many of the speakers at the march acknowledged the emerging political power of young activists, but Wadler put it best when she said: “We know that we have seven short years until we too have the right to vote.”
Naomi is co-organizing a walkout at her elementary school with morning with Carter, who is also 11. “Some parents have felt that we’re not old enough to know about it,” Carter said. “Like they think because we’re 5th graders we don’t know anything about what’s happening.” pic.twitter.com/RSty6cH7VY
— Lois Beckett (@loisbeckett) March 14, 2018
She ended by quoting Toni Morrison: “If there’s a book that you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must be the one to write it.”