Hi my name is Naomi and I’m 11 years old. Me and my friend Carter led a walk-out at our elementary school on the 14th. We walked out for 18 minutes, adding a minute for Courtlin Arrington, an African-African girl who was the victim of gun violence at her school in Alabama, after the Parkland shooting.

I am here today to represent Courtlin Arrington.

I am here today to represent Hadiya Pendleton.

I – I am here today to represent Taiyania Thompson, who at just 16 years old, was shot dead at her home here in Washington, DC.

I am here today to acknowledge and represent the African American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper [applause and cheering] – 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.

It is my privilege for me to be here today. I am indeed full of privilege. My voice has been heard. I am here to acknowledge their stories to say they matter, to say their names, because I can and I was asked to be.

For far too long these names, these black girls and women have been just numbers.

I am here to say NEVER AGAIN for those girls too. [applause]

I am here to say everyone should value those girls too.

People have said that I am too young to have these thoughts on my own.

People have said that I’m a tool of some nameless adult.

It’s not true.

My friends and I might still be 11, and we might still be in elementary school, but we know we know, we know life isn’t equal for everyone and we know what is right and wrong.

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.

So I’m here today to honor the words of Toni Morrison – if there’s a book that you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.

I urge everyone here and everyone who hears my voice to join me in telling the stories that aren’t told – to honor the girls the women of color who were murdered at disproportionate rates in this nation – I urge each of you to help me write the narrative for this world, and understand so that these girls and women are never forgotten.

Thank you.

Naomi Wadler, March 24, 2018

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