Stop Everything and Listen to this Knockout March for Our Lives Speech by an 11-Year-Old Girl

Naomi Wadler powerfully honors the black girls killed by gun violence.

Naomi Wadler, 11, a student at George Mason Elementary School, speaks during the "March for Our Lives" rally.Andrew Harnik/AP

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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.

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.”

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.”

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.”

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