On March 14, Naomi Wadler helped organize a walkout of 60 fellow students at George Mason Elementary School, according to the Fairfax Times.
And on Saturday, the 11-year-old energized a crowd of thousands at the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C. She talked about why she pushed for the walkout — and had the protest last 18 minutes instead of 17 minutes like those at other schools were doing for the 17 victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Hundreds of thousands of people, many of them students, gathered throughout the country to advocate for stricter gun laws, The Washington Post reported. They congregated in cities from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles.
During her speech, Wadler said she wanted her school’s walkout to last 18 minutes because of Courtlin Arrington, a 17-year-old black teenager shot and killed by another student on March 7, and other black women killed by guns.
“I am here today to acknowledge and represent the African-American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper,” she said to loud cheers, “(and) 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.”
A 2014 study found that black Americans are twice as likely to be killed by a gun than white people. And black women are twice as likely to be victims of homicide than white women, according to a report from the Violence Policy Center.
Wadler’s name quickly trended on Twitter.
Wadler, a fifth-grader, told WUSA9 why she wanted her fellow students to walk out of school in the days leading up to March 14.
“I think it’s completely unacceptable that we are not exercising our rights to be safe at school,” she said.
Some staff members at her school were uncomfortable with the walkout because they feared it was unsafe to have the students on the front lawn, according to AlexandriaNews.org. But Wadler questioned whether she and her classmates were safe inside.
“How we be will be safe in our own classrooms in the world we live in now,” she asked, “when it’s OK for someone to walk into a store with an expired ID and buy an assault rifle?”