11-year-old: Never again for black girls too

"I represent the African American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics," said 11-year-old Naomi Wadler in a speech for #MarchForOurLives.

Posted: Mar 26, 2018 6:53 PM
Updated: Mar 26, 2018 6:53 PM

Just five weeks ago, a gunman killed 17 of their friends and teachers at school and changed the course of their lives. This weekend, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School led a historic march for gun control, what they called a March for Our Lives.

Here's how the Parkland, Florida, students went from experiencing a mass tragedy to launching a mass movement.

They took immediate action

Within days of the February 14 shooting, the students made clear that thoughts and prayers were not enough for them -- they wanted concrete legislative solutions to the epidemic of mass shootings and an end to the influence of the National Rifle Association.

At a rally in Fort Lauderdale, senior Emma González called BS on politicians who said no law could have prevented the massacre.

"Maybe the adults have gotten used to saying 'it is what it is,' but if us students have learned anything, it's that if you don't study, you will fail," González said. "And in this case if you actively do nothing, people continually end up dead, so it's time to start doing something."

Her classmates insisted that the time for action was now, and that could help them heal. They adopted the rallying cry #NeverAgain, and a nascent movement formed.

They engaged with the media

National news outlets descended on Parkland to cover the shooting. They found survivors willing to relive the most terrifying moments of their lives and connect them to policies on gun violence.

Seniors David Hogg, an aspiring broadcast journalist, and González, president of her school's Gay-Straight Alliance, remained poised and eloquent as they fielded reporters' questions.

Junior Cameron Kasky laid out the stakes in a CNN opinion article: "We can't ignore the issues of gun control that this tragedy raises. And so, I'm asking -- no, demanding -- we take action now."

They announced plans to march

By February 18, the students put everyone on notice: They planned to march for their lives in Washington on March 24.

From the start, they pledged to center students' voices as gun violence survivors and future voters and invited teens across the country to join them.

"One of the things we've been hearing is that it's not the time yet to talk about gun control," Kasky said. "So here's the time that we're going to talk about gun control: March 24."

The rally was intended to give students everywhere a chance to "beg for their lives," he said.

The march had three primary demands:

- Pass a law to ban the assault weapons;

- Stop the sale of high-capacity magazines;

- Implement laws that require background checks on all gun purchases, including online and at gun shows.

They raised funds

A GoFundMe campaign to support the rally raised more than $1.7 million in three days on top of $2 million in private donations from Hollywood personalities including George and Amal Clooney, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg.

The funds would make the March 24 rally possible, paying for supplies, equipment and coordination of the massive event. As of Sunday, more than 42,000 people had donated nearly $3.5 million to the online fundraiser.

They built excitement through small victories

While some shooting victims were still hospitalized and funerals were beginning, students boarded a bus to the state capitol for a lobbying day.

The experience galvanized them in different directions, and many continued to fight along with Stoneman Douglas parents at the state level for stricter gun laws. They didn't get the assault weapons ban they wanted. But they took heart in Gov. Rick Scott's passage of measures opposed by the NRA, such as raising the minimum age for gun purchases.

Momentum grew for their cause as companies cut ties with the NRA. At a CNN town hall, they went head to head with Sen. Marco Rubio and NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch on gun laws.

Meanwhile, they continued to put pressure on the federal government to pass universal background checks.

On March 14, one month after the shooting, scores of students across the United States walked out of class to honor the 17 victims and make sure that calls for change take into account the broader context of gun violence.

"We are standing in solidarity with the youth from the mass shooting, but we also know the repercussions of what's going to happen next could fall on black and brown people," said Keno Walker, who helped high school students organize walkouts in Miami.

They welcomed support

As #NeverAgain supporters set their sights on the Washington rally, partner organizations stepped up.

Giffords, the gun safety advocacy group named for congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a mass shooting survivor, provided transportation to Washington for some Stoneman Douglas families with the help of New England Patriots CEO Robert Kraft, who provided the team's jet to help families get to Washington.

Other Stoneman Douglas students traveled with families and friends to the march. Senior Julia Bishop said she chose to attend the rally in Washington in order to "feel the heart of support" contained within the movement.

"I wanted to stand on Capitol Hill in the shadow of our country's legislature and express how truly enraged I am that my friends are now dead due to gun violence and there had been nothing done about it."

Everytown for Gun Safety supplied operational and logistical resources for marches in Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Milwaukee and New Orleans, the group said Sunday. Additionally, the organization said it gave out $5,000 grants to more than 200 local organizers across the country to ensure they had operational resources. The group helped to support transportation for students from cities including Boston, Baltimore, Chicago, New York City, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to travel to the march in D.C.

Ben and Jerry's also chipped in with grants to fund bus transportation to the march.

For entertainment, Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Common, Demi Lovato and Vic Mensa committed to performing.

Meanwhile, people in the nation's capital lent a hand. Eleven mothers from metro D.C. banded together to find free housing for participants from out of town. Chef José Andrés' ThinkFoodGroup and various DC restaurants offered free and discounted food to student marchers.

They invited more voices

The day before the rally, Stoneman Douglas senior David Hogg said the media's biggest mistake while covering the school's shooting was "not giving black students a voice."

When they took the stage at March for Our Lives, Hogg and his classmates made sure to not make the same mistake. Speakers from Chicago, Brooklyn and Los Angeles also appeared onstage to describe how gun violence affected their communities.

"We recognize that Parkland received more attention because of its affluence," Jaclyn Corin, a survivor of the Parkland shooting, said in her speech. "But we share this stage today and forever with those communities who have always stared down the barrel of a gun."

Corin was joined onstage by Yolanda Renee King, Martin Luther King Jr.'s granddaughter. The 9-year-old said that like her grandfather, she too has a dream, in which "enough is enough."

Naomi Wadler, an elementary school student from Virginia, said she was speaking on behalf of African-American girls "whose stories don't make the front page" of national newspapers.

They encouraged everyone to attend

The students invited others to join them and provided a toolkit to help people organize their own marches. More than 800 groups marched in cities across the US and internationally, including in London, Madrid, Rome and Tokyo.

In Boston, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School graduate Leslie Chiu said the march was about gun violence in general, not just school shootings.

"This is not just in Parkland," she said. "It is in every community, especially those of color. ... This is not a moment. This is a movement."

They promised there's more to come

Student-activists elswhere are calling for another national walkout on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. The Network for Public Education is urging people on the same day to to bring attention to school safety through walkouts, sit-ins or rallies.

Otherwise, #NeverAgain is turning its attention to the November midterms to vote out politicians who don't appear to support gun law reform.

"They've gotten used to being protective of their position, the safety of inaction," Hogg told the crowd in Washington on Saturday.

"To those politicians supported by the NRA that allow the continued slaughter of our children and our future, I say get your resumés ready."

READ: Slacktivism is over. The #NeverAgain movement is about what's next

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 37210

Reported Deaths: 1495
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12048782
Ramsey4777222
Stearns231219
Dakota224890
Anoka2155107
Nobles16616
Olmsted107615
Washington104840
Mower9322
Rice8277
Scott6844
Clay58037
Kandiyohi5661
Wright4535
Blue Earth4422
Todd4002
Carver3611
Lyon3052
Sherburne3035
Freeborn2890
Steele2231
Watonwan2150
Benton2123
St. Louis17415
Martin1615
Nicollet15512
Cottonwood1340
Goodhue1278
Winona12015
Crow Wing10412
Pine1030
Chisago971
Otter Tail921
Le Sueur911
McLeod850
Carlton830
Dodge830
Unassigned8237
Polk812
Chippewa761
Isanti650
Itasca6412
Waseca620
Douglas610
Meeker591
Morrison591
Becker550
Jackson550
Faribault540
Murray540
Sibley532
Pennington510
Mille Lacs342
Brown312
Pipestone311
Wabasha310
Beltrami290
Rock290
Yellow Medicine290
Renville282
Fillmore270
Houston250
Swift211
Norman200
Wilkin203
Redwood170
Wadena150
Aitkin140
Big Stone140
Cass142
Kanabec141
Koochiching141
Marshall120
Grant100
Lincoln100
Pope100
Roseau100
Clearwater70
Mahnomen71
Lake60
Hubbard50
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Stevens40
Red Lake30
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30173

Reported Deaths: 718
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6275178
Woodbury320144
Black Hawk218058
Buena Vista170511
Linn123882
Johnson12318
Dallas122329
Marshall103519
Story7463
Pottawattamie71911
Scott70410
Wapello70230
Crawford6752
Muscatine62444
Dubuque60922
Sioux4610
Tama45829
Wright3771
Louisa36013
Jasper32117
Plymouth3134
Dickinson2592
Warren2581
Washington2349
Hamilton1871
Webster1702
Boone1421
Cerro Gordo1381
Clarke1272
Clay1270
Allamakee1264
Mahaska11517
Shelby1110
Clinton1041
Poweshiek1048
Pocahontas931
Carroll911
Bremer906
Des Moines862
Henry853
Franklin840
Cedar801
Taylor790
Emmet780
Cherokee751
Monona740
Floyd682
Marion680
Hardin650
Guthrie644
Sac630
Benton621
Jefferson580
Osceola580
Jones560
Harrison530
Humboldt531
Butler522
Buchanan511
Iowa510
Lee502
Monroe506
Hancock490
Calhoun482
Delaware481
Lyon400
Madison402
Clayton393
Davis391
Mills360
Palo Alto360
Winneshiek360
Grundy350
Fayette340
Mitchell340
Kossuth330
Lucas304
Greene280
Howard280
Chickasaw270
Jackson270
Union270
Winnebago270
Ida230
Cass210
Appanoose203
Keokuk201
Page200
Van Buren190
Audubon161
Adair150
Ringgold150
Worth150
Decatur110
Montgomery102
Wayne90
Adams80
Fremont70
Unassigned70
Rochester
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 85°
Mason City
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 88°
Albert Lea
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 84°
Austin
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 87°
Charles City
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 86°
HOT AND HUMID
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Pillars of the City Unveiled

Image

A hot day for a bike ride on the Douglas Trail

Image

Sen.Ernst tours homeless shelters, talks challenges

Image

Mask up Roachester Public Service announcement

Image

Staying hydrated over the holidays

Image

Coronavirus impact on holiday travel

Image

Enjoying fireworks social distanced

Image

Family Conflict During The Holidays

Image

Extra Drunk Driving Patrol

Image

Splash Pad Opens In Clear Lake

Community Events