While there were many incredible, poised speakers at Saturday’s March For Our Lives across the country, an 11-year-old from Alexandria, Virginia, named Naomi Wadler was arguably the most inspiring.
“I represent the African-American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential,” the preteen said in her speech to a massive crowd in Washington, D.C.
The fifth grader was chosen to speak at the march after she organized a walkout at her elementary school on March 14 to protest gun violence and honor the lives of those lost in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting in Parkland, Florida. She also honored Courtlin Arrington a 17-year-old high school senior from Alabama who was shot and killed in school, just weeks after the Florida shooting.
Naomi told a local Virginia news station that she thinks “it’s completely unacceptable that we are not exercising our rights to be safe at school.”
At Saturday’s march, Naomi’s eloquence and passion radiated throughout her speech. Yet again, she made sure to say that the march was not only for those killed in Parkland, but also for those who are underrepresented and whose names are just as worthy of remembering.
“I am here today to represent Courtlin Arrington. I am here today to represent Hadiya Pendleton. I am here today to represent Taiyana Thompson, who at just 16 was shot dead in her home here in Washington D.C.,” Naomi said.
“I am here to acknowledge and represent the African-American girls whose stories 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.”
Naomi continued, saying she knows many people believe she’s too young to have the thoughts and opinions.
“My friends and I might still be 11, and we might still be in elementary school but we know. We know life isn’t equal for everyone and we know what is right and wrong,” she said.
“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.”
The speech is making waves on Twitter, with people calling Naomi their president and “our future”:
We can’t wait to see what you do next, Naomi.