It’s been more than a month since Emma González was thrust into the national spotlight. On February 17, the senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas delivered a powerful speech after Nikolas Cruz, a former student, opened fire and killed 17. Since then, she and a group of her classmates have come together to push for gun control. On Saturday, the teens organized March for Our Lives, a nationwide protest. In Washington, DC, where hundreds of thousands gathered, protesters started arriving early. Before 3 p.m., Emma González – who wore an olive green jacket with several patches, including one of the Cuban flag – took to the stage and brought the crowd to tears with a long moment of silence.
“Six minutes and about 20 seconds. In a little over six minutes, 17 of our friends were taken from us, 15 were injured, and everyone, absolutely everyone, in the Douglas community was forever altered,” Emma started her speech. “Everyone who’s 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 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 knew 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.”
She then went on to name the victims of the shooting, explaining all that they could never do because their lives were cut tragically short. Two minutes into her speech, Emma suddenly went silent. As tears streamed down her face and people cheered her on, she didn’t say a word. The camera panned to the crowd and captured some who looked visibly uncomfortable and others who, like Emma, cried.
When an alarm from her phone went off, she resumed her speech. “Since the time that I came out here, it’s been six minutes and 20 seconds,” she said. “The shooter has ceased shooting and will soon abandon his rifle, blend in with the students as they escape, and walk free for an hour before arrest. Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job.”
The speech moved many, who made remarks about the extended silence. Check out a few reactions below: