Emma González stood absolutely silent, except for the sound of her quietly crying, before thousands gathered for the March For Our Lives.
On stage with the U.S. Capitol in view behind her, she stared ahead, at times closing her eyes as she kept her composure. Chants from the crowd around her began and ended briefly. The 18-year-old remained quiet. At a certain point, it seemed like the crowd, gathered to rally for gun control, understood what was going on.
Tears streamed down her cheeks. Silence. Others on stage and in the crowd sobbed.
González spoke briefly, saying the names of each of the victims and the things they would never do again, then said nothing more until six minutes and 20 seconds had passed from the moment she had stepped to the microphone — the amount of time it took for the gunman to kill 17 of her classmates and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.
A timer she had set rang. González ended her dramatic pause, and spoke again, explaining how after that amount of time had passed, the shooting ended and the gunman abandoned his rifle, walked out of the high school and blended in with other students. It would be more than an hour later when police located and arrested him.
On Saturday, González concluded a powerful speech that featured more silence than words with a message directed at the mass of youth watching.
“Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job.”
This story was updated to clarify details of Emma González’s speech.