When Emma Gonzalez Said Nothing On Stage At The March, She Said More Than Anyone

The Parkland student went silent for minutes to honor the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

Thousands gathered in the U.S. and around the world yesterday for the March for Our Lives, a demonstration organized students from Parkland, Fla., after a shooting at their school last month calling for reforms to gun legislation. While estimates put the crowd at less than recent demonstrations like the Women's March, what is significant is those in attendance yesterday were largely those most affected by school shootings: students. At rallies across the country, it was students, many of whose lives had already been touched by gun violence, who took the microphone and captured the nation's attention. 

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In Chicago, 19-year-old Trevon Bosley spoke out in the name of his older brother Terrell, who was killed in a case of mistaken identity in 2006. Students from Newtown, Conn., drove to D.C. to march in honor of the 20 children and six adults who were killed five years ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School. And in D.C., students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School arrived to chants of "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"

Several students from Douglas High School spoke at the rally in D.C., and Emma Gonzalez created one of the most powerful moments of the march using no words at all.

Gonzalez, one of the organizers of the March for Our Lives, opened her speech with a number: 6 minutes and 20 seconds. This, she explained, is the estimated amount of time it took a shooter to enter her high school on Feb. 14 and end the lives of 17 people. 

"Everyone who was there understands," she said. "Everyone who has been touched by the cold grip of gun violence understands."

She continues and lists the names of the 17 people killed in the tragedy, brushing tears from her eyes as she reads, and then she abruptly stops, leaving the end of her last sentence, "would never," echoing in the air. 

"Go Emma!" people in the crowd yell as the length of Gonzalez's pause becomes uncomfortable. An occasional round of cheering breaks out. A group starts a "Never again!" chant. But still Gonzalez stands, defiant and sure of herself as tears roll down her cheeks. 

The electronic trill of a timer breaks her silence. 

"Since the time that I came out here, it has been 6 minutes and 20 seconds," Gonzalez explains. "The shooter has ceased shooting, and will soon abandon his rifle, blend in with the students as they escape, and walk free for an hour before arrest. Fight for your lives before it's someone else's job."

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