‘What it comes down to is life or death’ — Students shout for a revolution at March for Our Lives

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Excerpt: PBS

Emma Gonzalez, a student and shooting survivor from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, cries as she addresses the conclusion of the “March for Our Lives” event demanding gun control after recent school shootings at a rally in Washington, D.C., on March 24, 2018. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Cutting deep into the hearts of an emotional crowd in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, Emma González, a leader of the March for Our Lives, held silence on stage for most of 6 minutes and 20 seconds, the amount of time it took a shooter to kill her classmates on Valentine’s Day.

It was evocative of the hour that González and other survivors waited at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day to hear whether their friends were still alive.

“No one knew that the people who were missing had stopped breathing long before any of us even knew that a code red had been called,” she told tens of thousands of people who had been rallying near the National Mall for several hours during a short speech.

Then, she named the 17 who died, briefly described what they could never do again, and abruptly stopped speaking, staring into the crowd for the remainder. She would occasionally sniffle or cry, breathing into the microphone while maintaining the same determined expression that became iconic of the resistance that rose from Parkland’s pain.

Parents held their children, who cradled their heads into their parents’ necks, students cried with each other, and some chanted, “Never again,” echoing a hashtag that González’s movement has created, but for the majority of the time the crowd waited with her.

She was the last survivor to talk at the highly anticipated rally, which started at noon in D.C.

Emma González speaks at the March for Our Lives

Emma González, who survived the Parkland school shooting and is now helping lead the movement against gun violence, speaks at the #MarchForOurLives rally in Washington, D.C. Read our coverage here: https://to.pbs.org/2DS4vEC

Posted by PBS NewsHour on Saturday, March 24, 2018

Singer Andra Day along with students from the Baltimore middle school Cardinal Shehan kicked it off the event singing “Rise Up” as the crowd danced.

Co-organizer Cameron Kasky was the first survivor to address the crowd about three hours ahead of González, warning politicians to, “Stand for us or beware. The voters are coming.”

González and Kasky were among five leaders of the movement featured on the cover of Time Magazine this week.

The survivors’ plight and ability to express it has resonated with people around the country and world, evoking international support that has been compared to Vietnam War-era resistance.