how naomi wadler is going to change the world

11-year-old Naomi Wadler wowed the world with her impassioned speech at Washington’s March for Our Lives gun control rally. Here, she writes a poem celebrating Black Girl Magic.

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Aug 30 2018, 1:03pm

This article originally appeared in i-D's The Earthwise Issue, no. 353, Fall 2018.

Smart, eloquent, and wise beyond her years, Naomi Wadler’s appearance at Washington’s March For Our Lives gun control rally in March was picked up by news channels across the globe. Her impassioned speech urging the nation not to forget “the African-American girls who’s stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper” was made more poignant by the gravitas of seeing an 11-year-old girl stand up in front of 200,000 marchers to quietly, and forcefully, articulate her rage at the racist violence at the heart of American society.

The speech went viral. Naomi Wadler became a hashtag. She trended on Twitter. Media requests flew in from CNN. She received shout outs from celebrities including Lupita Nyong’o, Tessa Thompson, and Janelle Monae. She was even hailed future president material. But most importantly of all, she opened up the gun violence conversation to include race.

Six months later, and the dust doesn’t look any closer to settling, with Naomi going on to speak at the Teen Vogue Summit and appear on the Ellen DeGeneres show.

So how do you become an 11-year-old activist? Born in Ethiopia and adopted as a baby, Naomi lives in Alexandria, Washington, and organized a protest walk out at her school after the daughter of a friend of her mother’s was killed in the Parkland shooting. While the majority of student protests lasted 17 minutes — to honor Parkland’s 17 victims — Naomi added an additional minute to honor Courtlin Arrington, an African-American teenager shot dead at high school in Alabama, who had distressingly gone under the radar.

Naomi made the news, and she was invited to speak at March For Our Lives as a result. “I represent the African-American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls that fill a potential,” she stated. “For far too long these names, these black girls and women have been just numbers. I’m here to say ‘never again’ for those girls, too.”

Naomi was the second-youngest speaker at the march — after nine-year-old Yolanda Renee King, Martin Luther King’s granddaughter. She doesn’t have any social media accounts, so she is unaware of the global impact she’s made, something her mum would like to maintain.

For this issue of i-D, Naomi wanted to write a poem celebrating Black Girl Magic. Read her words and digest their message below. A star is born.

Black Girl Magic by Naomi Wadler

Never back down Fight for your rights, own your crown

Stick up for yourself Protect yourself LOVE yourself

This is Black Girl Magic

Love your big, gorgeous curls, their bounce and swirl Your glistening skin, sun kissed and shining Confident from the flip of your curl to the tip of your toes You are Divine

This is Black Girl Magic

Love your curves Love your figure even without swerve Lift your head high Even if you are the only one, never be shy

This is Black Girl Magic

Brilliant and wise Always knowledgeable beyond compare Standing for what is right Ready always for the fight

This is Black Girl Magic

Taking a stand Stand together Understanding the world and still, Stand in our power

This is Black Girl Magic

You are a Queen Own your title Stick out and shine

No matter what they say Know you are amazing at the end of the day

It is all of us, now we must stay true Cause what we know in our hearts, what the others might rue

Black Girl Magic is you

Credits


Photography Aaron Laserna