Aalayah Eastmond Speaks at March on Washington

Aalayah Eastmond Speaks at March on Washington

Trinity sophomore Aalayah Eastmond spoke powerfully on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the March on Washington 2020, sharing the stage with Rev. Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III. The event, “The Commitment March, Get Your Knee Off Our Necks!”, on August 28, drew thousands to Washington, D.C., and was watched virtually across the country and around the world.

Aalayah Eastmond is a survivor of the Parkland mass shooting and has turned her horrific experience into bold activism. She’s the co-founder and core organizer of Concerned Citizens of DC and a member of the executive council of Team Enough. She has spoken at Senate and House Committees on gun violence and the disproportionate impact on Black lives. She has organized and spoken at #Black Lives Matter protests in the spring and throughout summer 2020.

“Be outraged equally for Black lives.”

Excerpts from Aalayah Eastmond’s speech, August 28, 2020

I am one of the millions of young Black women who make up the backbone of the American progressive movement. Like too many of us, my journey of activism started by a senseless act of gun violence, when a fellow student opened fire in my classroom in Parkland, Florida.

As I lay beneath the lifeless body of my classmate Nicholas Dworet to survive, as bullets riddled my classmates, as my screams melted into the cries of the wounded, I was then born again with a voice that cannot, and will not, be muzzled….

Gun violence is pervasive and extends well beyond high profile mass shootings…. Gun violence extends beyond the path of a bullet and creates multi-generational cycles of poverty as well as social and economic injustices…

Studies show that persistent gun violence in poor communities of color directly results in centuries of entrenched disadvantages, economic deprivation and racist policymaking. In many ways, gun violence is the last domino to fall at the end of a long line of racism, trauma and indifference.

But this is not inevitable. Community-based intervention programs throughout the country have proven that holistic, culturally sensitive, embedded teams can stop violence before it starts. We demand funding for these programs.

We’ve seen the shooting at our high school get worldwide attention, but the mass shooting that happened in Southeast DC three weeks ago where 17-year old Christopher Brown lost his life, and 20 people were wounded got no attention.

Be outraged equally for Black lives.

… Police violence is gun violence and gun violence is the leading cause of death for Black youth.

We demand to live in peace. We demand to live in spaces where the best of Black culture can thrive, where Black men are more likely to have a mortgage and a picket fence than a record, where Black women are business executives and vice presidents….

As I returned from Louisville yesterday where Breonna Taylor was brutally killed by LPD, it is clear that Black women are still unprotected. As I stand here in pain from the aftermath of tear gas and rubber bullets, I realize that Black women are still the backbone of this movement.


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