Opinion: Four Minutes of Silence Speaks Louder than any Speech



Kayla Sweet, Staff Writer

On March 24th, 2018, 19-year-old Emma Gonzalez took the stage once again to speak out in Washington at  March For Our Lives.

In the last couple months, she has spoken out for a change in gun control policy as a result of her experience as a student in the Parkland high school shooting, where 17 lives were taken when a student opened fire with an AR-15.

The first words she spoke were, “Six minutes, and about 20 seconds…” This was how long the active shooter targeted the students at the high school in Parkland, FL.”

Gonzalez continued her speech, bringing in the emotional impact of losing each individual student from her school. Each student would never have the chance to do things that they once loved because they were no longer with us on Earth. Her tone grew quicker and louder with each student’s name, so much so that she was almost out of breath. Suddenly, after their names were said, this young activist fell silent for about four minutes and 25 seconds before speaking again.

This “moment” of silence was to emphasize that from the time since her speech began, to that moment of silence, the shooter, Nikolas Cruz had the time to attack other students after pulling the fire alarms.

The entire speech was around six minutes and 20 seconds long, the same length as the attack. If there was one thing I could change, in my opinion, I would have wanted her to remain silent for the entire six minutes and 20 seconds (not including her introduction and conclusion), thus emphasizing the entire attack.

This speech was attention-grabbing as speeches are a platform to discuss one’s opinions and to encourage the audience to rally around the cause.

Besides honoring her fallen classmates, what was the message she was trying to convey by being silent?

She had a moment when everyone was listening and she had been using her voice for several weeks. So why did she stay silent now? In my opinion, her silent speech was a chance to give those whose voice was yet to be heard, an opportunity to speak louder.

During these minutes of silence, people were clapping, chanting words of encouragement to Gonzalez, and chanting “NEVER AGAIN!”

This wasn’t Emma’s speech, but instead, the people’s speech.

It was the people’s because they were chanting and encouraging on and off for about four minutes. This speech was so different from any speech I have listened to, but because it encourages further dialogue on this major social issue, I will never forget it.

She is a strong activist and she, along with the other Parkland students, are making strong strides for more policy on gun control. You are never too young to fight for what you believe, and I am so thankful to live in a country where we can speak out about our beliefs.