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Parkland Shooting Survivor Emma Gonzalez Delivers Powerful Speech in Ft. Lauderdale

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“Every single person up here today, all these people should be home grieving, but instead we are up here standing together because if all our government and president can do is send ‘thoughts and prayers,’ then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see.”

These are the opening words of Emma Gonzalez at a speech in Ft. Lauderdale just three days after horror struck her high school in Parkland, Florida. Gonzalez is an 18-year-old senior and has been an advocate for gun regulation since before the shooting, but now she has become a beacon of strength for both her fellow classmates and students all around the country.

Prior to the shooting on February 14, Gonzalez was pictured participating in a Valentine’s Day event, smiling with her friends. Now she is delivering powerful speeches and fighting hard to prevent the tragedy that shook her school after 19-year-old former student, Nikolas Cruz, killed 17 people in an act of extreme violence.

“We are speaking up for those who don’t have anyone listening to them, for those who can’t talk about it just yet, and for those who will never speak again,” wrote Gonzalez in a personal essay on the shooting. “We are grieving, we are furious, and we are using our words fiercely and desperately because that’s the only thing standing between us and this happening again.”

Gonzalez’s message is powerful and she refuses to pull any of her punches. She has repeatedly called out politicians for lack of empathy and general inaction against the plague of school shootings that leave hundreds of families devastated and their grief unanswered. In a televised meeting with National Rifle Association Representative Dana Loesch, Gonzalez told Loesch with a straight face that she was “willing to support [Loesch’s] two children in a way [she] will not.”

“I think it shows students: here is a student just like us, using her voice in a very powerful and effective way, especially with the fact that it has gotten so much attention,” said Joshua Thompson, English teacher. “I haven’t seen any personal effects on my students, but I’m also not surprised; we see this every single day. I think I’m going to do a project with my freshman related to this.”

The survivors’ actions, especially those of Emma Gonzalez, have the opportunity to inspire a sense of urgency in students across the United States to use their voices and make themselves heard. The next generation has risen to fill the silence and inaction of older generations, and they aren’t planning to back down until their schools and communities are safe.

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Parkland Shooting Survivor Emma Gonzalez Delivers Powerful Speech in Ft. Lauderdale