21 February 2018, Tallahassee, Florida, USA
First and foremost, I''d just like to thank everybody for giving us this platform. And Senator Rayder, from Parkland, who came here.
If there's one thing I want everyone to remember here today about this, is we're just kids! I know myself, I'm only sixteen, I'm a junior in high school. Most of my worries are, what show am I going to watch at 6pm, when do I do my homework, how do I fit in rehearsals for theatre.
I know for my other colleagues it's sports, or maybe film
But everybody needs to remember, we are just children.
A lot of people think that that disqualifies us from even having an opinion on this sort of matter. As if because we've been through a traumatic experience, that we don't know what we're talking about that we're speaking irrationally.
And I want everyone to remember, that is not the case. We, more than anybody else, understand the violence that comes through certain guns. We more than anybody else understand what it feels like to lose somebody. We more than anybody else understand what if's like to have a beautiful community like Parkland, and have it taken away from us by the media, and by everybody else, and by Nikolas Cruz, who just ruined its image.
Parkland is a beautiful, safe town. And it's now ruined.
I know personally, I'm going to live there for a pretty long time, and it's not going to be the same. It's always going to be, 'oh, I'm so sorry to hear that you're from Parkland'.
I want everybody to remember, we are just kids. I'm sorry, it's difficult to talk about this sort of thing, because not even more than a week ago, I was worried about a math test, I was worries about having a school show for he children in the elementary school, just a road down.
The way people today have greeted us, or not greeted us, is acknowledged by Ryan.
We aren't being taken seriously enough. Now I personally don't know the steps that we're going to havewe're going to take, but once we figure that out, we're going to take them, and you better believe, we're gong to take them as soon as possible.
Because, although we are just kids, we understand.
We know. We are old enough to understand financial responsibilities. We’re old enough to understand why a senator cares about reelection or not. We are old enough to understand why someone might want to discredit us for their own political purposes, but we will not be silenced.
It has gone on long enough that we… Just because we are kids, we are not allowed to understand.
But trust me, I understand.
I was in a closet, locked, for four hours with people who I would consider almost family, crying and weeping on me, begging for their lives. I understand what it’s like to text my parents, “Good-bye. I might never, ever get to see you again. I love you.” I understand what it’s like to fear for your life, and I don’t think we should ever be discredited because of that.
I don’t think we should ever be silenced because we are just children.
I feel that that is powerful, and it is one of the only reasons this movement is where it is right now. I am extremely, extremely angry and sad. And I don’t know if I’m going to be traumatized because of this. I don’t know if I’m gonna have faith in my state and local government anymore, because what I saw today was discouraging. But I want everybody here today to know we will not be discouraged. We will not falter. We will not stop this movement, because this is more than just us.
This is everybody in America. This is for every single kid who fears for their life. This is more than Parkland. This is more than Florida. This is more than the United States. This is something serious. This is about human lives. Please, I beg, and I demand that every single person in power who has the ability to change the fear that kids feel going back to school, that they do something.
Because I want everybody to know: I’m supposed to be going back to school — back to school in less than a week, and I’m not ready. I don’t think anybody here is ready. I don’t think anybody here is ready to go back to class and just have an empty seat, and you know that that empty seat is because — ’cause someone’s — 'cause someone’s dead, because somebody lost their lives. And I don’t know how I’m gonna cope with it. I’ve spoken to grief counselors, but grief counselors can only do so much. What we need is action. And we need it now, more than ever, because people are losing their lives, and it is still not being taken seriously.
I don’t know what it’s gonna take. I don’t know what it’s gonna take to get some people to realize, this is more than just reelections. This is more than just political gain. This is more than conspiracy theories and people trying to disqualify us from even having an opinion.
This matters to me more than anything else in my entire life, and I want everybody to know: I personally, I’m prepared to drop out of school. I am prepared to not worry about anything else besides this, because change might not come today. .
It might not come tomorrow. It might not even come March 24th when we March for our lives down in Washington. But it’s going to happen, and it’s going to happen before — in my lifetime because I will fight every single day — and I know everyone here will fight for the rest of their lives — to see sensible gun laws in this country and so that kids don’t have to fear going back to school. Thank you.