Suppression of women along with their submission to men has existed for centuries, and fortunately circumstances are slowly but surely beginning to change. Numerous young women have contributed to this change, most recently Emma Gonzalez, who has boldly advanced the status of females in a number of ways.
Emma is a senior at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where on February 14, 2018, a gunman murdered 14 students, 3 teachers, and severely injured many more. Three days later Emma gave an 11-minute speech at a gun-control rally in Fort Lauderdale, in which she requested listeners to pressure lawmakers to change laws. After she read the names of the victims, there were 6 minutes and 20 seconds of silence—and then Gonzales stated as a reenactment of the shooting event—“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.” Immediately after the speech, praise and astonishment erupted on social media—people acknowledged how extremely remarkable and powerful she is. Gonzalez then joined Twitter and acquired more than a million followers within 10 days.
Emma is bisexual and says having been open about her sexuality has helped propel her activism. She has been president of her school’s Gay-Straight Alliance for 3 years. She had to make a PowerPoint to convince her parents to let her shave her head. Indeed it is amazing that this teenager had the strength, conviction, and energy to honestly share with millions of people the truth of who she is. She accomplished a feat that not only educates others, but also helps humankind to soften their prejudice and to move forward in a united, loving way.
Subsequent to the Parkland event, Emma has emerged as one of the most prominent people among student activists who have mobilized against gun violence. She spent almost a month urging Twitter followers to turn out for Saturday, March 24th marches. There were more than 800 rallies across the United States and worldwide on that day. Hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in Washington, D.C., where Emma spoke—again she was silent for 6 minutes and 20 seconds while tears streamed down her face and the crowd chanted “NEVER AGAIN!” A poll later indicated that 69 percent of Americans, including half of Republicans, are now in favor of stronger gun-control laws. It is truly remarkable how one eighteen-year-old, bisexual female has effected such profound change in this country and even beyond.
It wasn’t until I was in my early thirties that I had the strength and resolve to become an activist—a time when civil rights of black people were moving center stage. Wanting to do what I could to help end racial prejudice and the plight of millions of black people, I participated in Project Understanding—an undertaking that involved helping civil rights marchers secure safe lodging at night. Furthermore, at one point I traveled to a rural county in Mississippi to spend time with a black family very much involved in championing civil rights—even risking death. Paradoxically, fear of death becomes secondary to the mission of those seeking freedom that had been denied for centuries.
No matter who we are or where we live, we can contribute to the betterment of humankind even if by simple acts of kindness to others, as well as campaigning for equal rights. Which causes or movements speak deeply to you and why? How do you/can you participate in supporting those issues? It’s never too late. Any and all comments about such involvements and contributions are most welcome!