Four Women of Color Fighting Gun Violence That You Need to Follow

On Friday, March 30, over one month after the horrific mass shooting in Parkland,
Florida, CNN released a video titled, “Black students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas
High School want to be heard.” Although the talk about gun control has recently died
down and watching my generation tackle national issues is inspiring, for far too long,
mainstream media has exalted white voices at the expense of communities of color who
have been consistently ignored, misrepresented, and utilized merely for political
Parkland student Tyah Amoy-Roberts summed it up perfectly: “The Black Lives Matter
movement has been addressing this topic since the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012,
yet we have never seen this kind of support for our cause, and we surely do not feel that
the lives or voices of minorities are valued as much as those of our white counterparts.”
So, here is a short list of women of color who have been amplifying our needs in the
fight against gun violence.
NAOMI WADLER | Naomi Wadler, an 11-year-old from Alexandria, Virginia, was the
second youngest speaker to be featured at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington,
D.C. on March 24. Her mother attended high school with Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-
year-old daughter Jaime Guttenberg was killed in the mass shooting at Marjory
Stoneman Douglas High School. When Naomi found out, she grieved — then she went
to work. The fifth-grade student organized a walkout at the local George Mason
Elementary School on March 14, and days later, she was speaking at the nation’s
In her speech, Wadler boldly proclaimed, “I am here to acknowledge and represent the
African-American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national
newspaper, whose stories don’t lead on the evening news. I’m here to say ‘Never again’
for those girls, too.”
EDNA LISBETH CHAVEZ | 17-year-old Edna Lisbeth Chavez from South Los Angeles,
California also spoke at the rally and talked about her role as one of the youth leaders of
Community Coalition. Having lied in South Los Angeles her entire life, she shared her
experiences with the crowd about what it was like to lose her brother, Ricardo, as well
as many other loved ones to gun violence.

“This is normal. Normal to the point where I have learned to duck bullets before I learn
how to read. It is normal to see candles. It is normal to see posters. It is normal to see
flowers honoring the lives of black and brown youth that have lost their lives to a bullet.”
Chavez said.
Although Chavez carries the trauma and anxiety of her brother’s death with her to this
day, she refuses to give up. The reason she joined the Community Coalition was to
impact policies and make sure the voices of the residents of South Los Angeles are
heard. In her speech, she challenged the district to fund mentorship programs, mental
health resources, and job opportunities for youth, rather than increase police presence
in schools which criminalizes and profiles minority students.
NZA-ARI KHEPRA | Columbia University senior and Chicago native Nza-Ari Khepra
was recently featured in Teen Vogue for her efforts against gun violence, but Khepra
has been at this since 2013. When Khepra was 16, her friend Hadiya Pendleton was
senselessly murdered in a playground near their high school a week after performing at
President Barack Obama’s inauguration.
“I march because there are many people who no longer can,” Khepra told Teen Vogue.
If you all truly want to stop gun violence, you will look at all of the different elements of it,
from failing school systems to institutionalized racism, and not try to find an exception,
but try to find a solution.”
In 2013, Khepra and 15 of her peers founded Project Orange Tree, an organization
dedicated to educating youth about gun violence, its causes, and potential solutions. In
2017, she became the co-creator of the Wear Orange campaign. After five long years,
the trial date for Pendleton’s death has finally been set for the end of this month.
AMBER GOODWIN | From her humble beginnings in Midland, Texas to Capitol Hill,
Amber Goodwin has been working to ensure a seat at the table for people of color in the
fight against gun violence since 2002. In 2016, she founded the Community Justice
Reform Coalition, a non-profit organization whose goal is to “uplift criminal justice
reforms in urban communities of color”.
Goodwin, who was featured in Cosmopolitan, shared her story and what led her to
finally take on the fight. After the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal
Church in Charleston, South Carolina in June 2015, she began to investigate how she
could make gun violence prevention a “more equitable and inclusive movement.”

Goodwin said in the interview, “My dad always tells my sisters and I that if we are going
to do something, just make it happen. They raised us to be resilient. As black women
growing up in the South, it is an attribute that will be in my DNA always.”

Ruth Samuel