Martin Luther King Jr.’s Granddaughter Yolanda Renee Spoke At March For Our Lives & Quoted Him
On Saturday afternoon, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators descended on Washington, D.C. for the March For Our Lives, protesting in support of gun control. And amid all the speakers, one little girl really stood out ― namely Yolanda Renee King, Martin Luther King Jr.'s granddaughter. She was introduced to the assembled crowd by Jaclyn Corin, a student at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and a survivor of last month's harrowing mass shooting at the school.
The nine-year-old King spoke to a packed National Mall, and quoted her grandfather, one of the foremost civil rights leaders in American history. The elder King was himself slain by an assassin's bullet back in 1968, at the age of 39.
"My grandfather had a dream. That his four little children would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character," King said. "I have a dream that enough is enough, and that this could be a gun-free world, period."
"Will you please repeat these words after me," King said, setting off a call-and-response with the crowd. "Spread the word! Have you heard? All across the nation. We are going to be a great generation. Now, I'd like you to say it like you really, really mean it!"
King's speech was an emotional high-point for the day, as she was met with a raucously positive reception both from the marchers, and from the students and activists sitting on the main stage.
The March For Our Lives has notably headlined a number of speakers of color, including King, South Los Angeles student and activist Edna Chavez, Stoneman Douglas survivor Aalayah Eastmond, Chicago high school student Trevon Bosley, and Brooklyn 11-year-old Christopher Underwood, among others.
The role of race in the media coverage of the Parkland shooting is something some of the Stoneman Douglas students themselves seem to be aware of. Recently, one of the high-profile survivors and activists, David Hogg, accused the media of failing to give his black classmates the same platform as his white classmates. Hogg has also called on white people to use their racial privilege to amplify black voices.
The slate of speakers on the National Mall main stage ended on an emotionally powerful note, with Stoneman Douglas student Emma Gonzalez concluding the program. The 17-year-old senior named every person killed in the mass shooting ― 17 in all, including 14 students and three adults ― and halted in the middle of her speech to observe a minutes-long moment of silence, with tears streaming down her face.
It's not yet clear just how many people took part in the marches. The organizers of the Washington, D.C. main event reportedly planned for 500,000 attendees, and by all accounts the streets surrounding the National Mall were thick with demonstrators.
The D.C. march isn't the only one taking place, either. There are also parallel "sibling" marches taking place in cities and towns throughout the country, and indeed, around the world. In fact, according to the official March For Our Lives website, there are events taking place in every continent on Earth except Antarctica. When the attendance in those marches is taken into account, it seems likely that the March For Our Lives, like the Women's March from each of the last two years, will top a million participants.
Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean the demonstrations will change the seemingly intractible Republican opposition to gun control. But if anything's been made clear, it's that the Parkland students ― and countless other victims of gun violence and their advocates, from adults to young children like King ― aren't going to stop the public pressure.