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Read the Speech: Emma Beardsley addresses the “March For Our Lives Rally” in Wellsville

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My name is Emma J. Beardsley and today I am going to tell you a little bit about our student lead group Students Against Hate.

In Students Against Hate our goal is to make students feel safe and seen in the school. It is hard trying to navigate through school, but it is especially hard when you don’t necessarily fit in with the majority. We want kids to want to go to school every day. We want kids to be able to express themselves around their fellow classmates. We want to spread the feeling of acceptance throughout our school. These are the things we, as students, are trying to do. 

But how do we help students to feel safe?  Who is to protect us from the outside violence, that is brought into our school? We as students can only do so much. How do you protect students from FEAR? How are we supposed to protect our classmates from the fear of coming to school on the wrong day?

I wish we didn’t have to deal with the normality of a mass shooting.  I wish we didn’t feel like the responsibility of our safety was placed on us.

 I wish that we didn’t have to learn, at the age of 10, how to barricade ourselves behind our backpacks. I wish we didn’t have to know that we must grab the sharpest objects around us. I wish we didn’t have to huddle quietly into a corner with our classmates.

But we do.

 I wish we didn’t have to hear about the 10 people murdered, because of the color of their skin, while trying to shop for groceries. But we do.

I wish that every time we look at our cellphones, we wouldn’t see a new article about children being slaughtered in school. But we do. 

I wish every time I go into a movie theater the thought of being shot didn’t cross my mind. But it does.  

I wish I didn’t have to worry about my 9-year-old brother being able to survive another 9 years at school. But I do.

I wish that we could all catch our breaths before having to protest again and fight for our safety. But we can’t.

The United States had 63 Mass shootings in the month of May 2022!  Those shootings killed 70 people and injured 308 more. (https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports/mass-shooting)

We have had 22 mass shootings so far this month. These shootings resulted in 36 people killed and 92 injured. Today is only June 11th.  (https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports/mass-shooting

I don’t know about you guys, but I am tired of the moments of silence. Now is the time to do something. 

It has been the time.

Before Columbine was the time.

Before Virginia tech was the time.

Before Sandy Hook was the time,

Before Parkland was the time,

Before Uvalde was the time.

Victims of gun violence are somebody’s someone. Gun violence has no limits.

Gun violence takes away aspiring basketball players.

Gun violence takes away future doctors.

Gun violence takes away moms and dads

Gun violence takes away sons and daughters and everyone in between.

When is it enough?

How many more protests do we need to say that our lives matter.

How many more memorials do we have to read?

My family friend, Mia Tretta, was shot in a school shooting in 2019.  She lived. Her best friend Dominic Blackwell died. I am standing here for her.  She is standing at a walk in Los Angeles, for Dominic.

Since 2019 she has participated in countless demonstrations regarding gun violence. Just in the time since her school shooting November 14, 2019 at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita there have been 69 shootings in or on school grounds. (https://everytownresearch.org/maps/gunfire-on-school-grounds/) Her high school years have turned into her being an activist.  She has spoken at the White House.  She has been on Good Morning America (https://www.goodmorningamerica.com/family/video/young-survivors-mass-shootings-cope-trauma-85230989) . She is doing work that a teenager shouldn’t have to be doing.  She was the one who introduced President Biden in his address about ghost guns (https://abc7.com/saugus-school-shooting-joe-biden-ghost-guns/11738782/). She is making a difference.

We cannot wait for someone else to do something.

We have to make a difference.

We have to be the change.   

In 1963, in his book, Strength to Love, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Every person here today is the light.

If you remember one thing from this speech, I want you to remember that you are the change, you are the light, and you are the love.

Thank you.

Emma Beardsley is a student at Fillmore Central School and a member of Students Against Hate, a student-led organization that addresses social justice issues and discrimination at Fillmore. Emma collaborated with two other Fillmore students ( Kyle Paulson and Sophia Pastorious  ) on these remarks.

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