Walt Disney Imagineering Technology Executive Bei Yang interviews Naomi Wadler, a sixth-grade activist from Alexandria, Virginia.

March for Our Lives Activist Naomi Wadler Isn’t Like Most 12-Year-Olds

Disney Imagineer Bei Yang interviews the young activist about social media, gun violence, hope and her future

smithsonian.com

It can be difficult for sixth-grader and March for Our Lives activist Naomi Wadler to escape the sense that “we’re doomed.”

“How else are you supposed to feel when shootings happen every day?” says Wadler. But talking with other people, including victims of gun violence, one-on-one, gives her hope. On the Road to Change tour, she and survivors of the Parkland shooting traveled the country and spoke with communities about gun violence.

Wadler was the youngest speaker at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C. on March 24, 2018. She captured national attention when she delivered a powerful message about how black women are disproportionately victims of gun violence, and yet their “stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper.” She joined Disney Imagineer Bei Yang on stage on December 7 for this year’s “The Long Conversation,” an annual event that brings together more than two dozen thinkers for an eight-hour relay of two-person dialogues about optimism at the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building.

The Alexandria, Virginia native quickly moved into the spotlight after her speech—even if she isn’t quite aware of the full extent of her reach since she stays away from social media. But she’s grateful that her message took off because it brought intersectionality into the discussion of gun violence.

“I’m happy that it did because I can use my platform to give a voice to other black girls who feel as if they don’t have one,” Wadler says.

What does the future hold for a young person who has achieved so much? One day, the sixth grader would like to run The New York Times. But for now, she’s teaching herself the ukulele.

About Rachael Lallensack

Rachael Lallensack is the assistant web editor for science and innovation at Smithsonian.

Read more from this author
Tags

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus