Days after the Valentine’s Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., a young woman with a buzz cut stood before television cameras and challenged lawmakers to make MSD the last school to see students killed in its hallways.
The high school senior, Emma Gonzalez, along with calling out state and federal officials for “B.S.,” told those listening that day that “it's time for victims to be the change that we need to see."
Since the Feb. 14 shooting, Gonzalez has followed her own advice, helping to organize a movement to push those who are blocking progress on gun control out of the way. One of the organizers of “March for Our Lives,” a rally set for Washington D.C. on March 24, Gonzalez has said she hopes to get legislation banning assault weapons passed, and that the downfall of the National Rifle Association would make the deaths of the 17 people killed at MSD High School almost “bearable.”
Gonzalez, who was forced to huddle in the school’s auditorium with classmates during the shooting at her school, was part of a nationally televised town hall, has been interviewed and profiled by media around the country, and has become the face of the student movement born out of Parkland.
Here are some things you may not know about Gonzalez.
- She is 18 and a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
- She was in the auditorium when mass shooter Nikolas Cruz pulled the fire alarm to draw students and teachers into the hallway and the line of fire.
- She holed up in the auditorium, searching Google News for updates on the shooting at the school.
- She gave an 11-minute speech at an anti-gun rally in Fort Lauderdale two days after the shooting.
- She has two siblings.
- Her father is an attorney for a cybersecurity company; her mother is a math tutor.
González identifies as bisexual. She revealed the fact in an op-ed she wrote for Vogue.
- She did not cut her hair off because of the shooting. She said it’s hot in Florida and her hair was “just an extra sweater I’m forced to wear.” She said she made a Powerpoint presentation to convince her parents to let her shave her head. “It worked.”
- She has lived in Parkland her entire life.
- Her father and members of his family immigrated from Cuba.
- She is one of the organizers of the upcoming march in Washington D.C.
- She was set for college in the fall but now says she and other members of the movement “Never Again” will put off college plans for a while.
- She has 1.2 million followers on Twitter – all since the shooting, she did not have an account on Twitter prior to Feb. 14.
- “We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks. Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because … we are going to be the last mass shooting.”
That’s going to be Marjory Stoneman Douglas in that textbook and it’s going to be due to the tireless effort of the school board, the faculty members, the family members and most of all the students. The students who are dead, the students still in the hospital, the student now suffering PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), the students who had panic attacks during the vigil because the helicopters would not leave us alone, hovering over the school for 24 hours a day.”
- “I didn’t think it would go viral at all,” she said of the speech she gave days after the shooting. “It went so far and so fast. I’ve got celebrities tweeting about me. I wanted people to feel what I was feeling.”
- “I feel like we’ve been writing these arguments for years,” she said of the movement for stricter gun control. “I utilized the things we’ve been taught. This school is full of people who are old enough to know when they’re being lied to.”
- “What would make the death(s) bearable is if the NRA was destroyed and if we were the ones to destroy it, at least for me.”
- “As the days go by, I’m kind of realizing I might not have a choice in that,” she said of going to college in the fall. “Do I have any right to feel like I deserve to go to college?”