Emma Gonzalez, 17-year-old survivor of the Parkland, Florida school shooting, gave an emotional speech during the March For Our Lives in Washington DC on Saturday (24 March).
Cities around the United States took part in the March for gun control. Washington DC alone saw about 200,000 people participating.
Gonzalez, the bisexual Cuban student of Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School, has faced a great deal of criticism for her activism post-shooting. Even politicians have attacked her for her gender and sexual orientation.
Nevertheless, Gonzalez stood in front of the large Washington DC crowd to give a 6 minute, 20 second speech—about as long as it took the shooter to enter the school building and take 17 lives.
‘6 minutes and about 20 seconds,’ Gonzalez stated. ‘In a little over 6 minutes, 17 of our friends were taken from us, 15 were injured, and everyone—absolutely everyone in the Douglas community was forever altered.’
‘Everyone who was there understands. Everyone who has been touched by the cold grip of gun violence understands.’
‘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.’
‘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.’
‘6 minutes and 20 seconds with an AR-15 and my friend, Carmen, would never complain to me about piano practice.’
Gonzalez goes on to name the victims of the shooting before stopping and silently weeping for around 17 seconds—to honor each of the 17 lives that were taken during the 14 February shooting.
Watch her full, powerful speech below:
Gonzalez was honored earlier this month with a Voice for Equality Award.