‘In 7 Short Years We Have The Right To Vote’ Says 11-Year Old Naomi Wadler, A New Voice Of Black Protest

‘In 7 Short Years We Have The Right To Vote’ Says 11-Year Old Naomi Wadler, A New Voice Of Black Protest

It has long been said that “out of babies” will come words of wisdom. And 11-year-old Naomi Wadler recently proved this when she gave an inspiring and insightful speech at the historic March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. on March 24.

America cannot forget about the lives of Black women and girls lost to gun violence, she said

Naomi Wadler speaks at March for Our Lives. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

“It is my privilege to be here today,” Naomi said at the march. “My voice has been heard. I am here to acknowledge their stories, to say they matter, because I can and I was asked.”

Naomi’s words were heard not only by those at the march but by the world. Her 3.5-minute speech was spread through the Internet on social media and went viral, viewed millions of times. Kamala Harris, the second Black woman elected to the U.S. Senate, shared a video clip of Naomi’s speech. Walder and her appearance at the march was trending on Twitter all day that day.

She continued: “I am here to acknowledge and represent the African American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper, 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.”

The fifth-grader “was the second-youngest speaker at the march–after 9-year-old Yolanda Renee King, Martin Luther King’s granddaughter,” reported The Guardian.

Naomi was already an activist before the speech. Earlier in March, she and an 11-year-old friend, Carter Anderson, organized a walkout at their school, George Mason Elementary School in Virginia, to honor the 17 victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Naomi and her fellow student broadened the scope of their walkout to also honor an African-American teenager named Courtlin Arrington, a victim of gun violence at her high school in Alabama in early March.

“African-American women, when they are shot and killed…their names aren’t remembered, so I thought it was important to add,” Naomi said during the walkout, which led to her being invited to speak at March for Our Lives in DC.

Naomi was deeply touched by the Parkland tragedy. When she sat crying on her mother’s lap after the shooting, Julie Wadler gave her daughter the same advice that many American parents offered in response to school shootings: “Be kind and reach out to kids who seem like they’re struggling,” the Guardian reported.

Ironically, while Naomi has become an internet sensation, she is not on social media. “I have been accustomed to not Google myself, so I haven’t seen everything,” Naomi told The Washington Post. “My speech might not have caused a giant impact on society, but I do hope all the Black girls and women realize there’s a growing value for them.”

According to the Post, Naomi “was born in Ethi­o­pia and attends a school where nearly six in 10 students are white, a third are Hispanic and 6 percent are Black. Her mom is white, and her dad, a recreational hunter, is Black.”

Naomi has always been an aware child–even without participating on social media. “We are a family that watches the news. She wants to know why on the news they identify black people as Black, and not white people as white,” Naomi’s mother said. “She wants to know why Trayvon Martin was shot. She wants to know why Philando Castile was shot. Her father is Black, and she wants to know, does she have to worry about him being stopped and killed?”

The pre-teen said she realizes that some are doubtful that she can be so socially conscious at a young age. For those doubters, she said during the rally:

“People have said that I am too young to have these thoughts on my own. People have said that I’m a tool of some nameless adult. It’s not true. My friends and I might still be 11 and we might still be in elementary school, but we know. We know life isn’t equal for everyone and we know what is right and wrong…And we know in 7 short years we have the right to vote.”


black protest
Tyra Hemans and Emma Gonzalez from Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida, and Naomi Wadler of Alexandria, Virginia, sing along with other students and shooting survivors at the conclusion of the March for Our Lives event in Washington, D.C. on March 24, 2018. Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters