These little kids' speeches at the March for Our Lives remind us the future is bright.

Americans got up early March 24, 2018, to unite in a heartwarming and empowering stand against gun violence.

Thousands of people across the U.S. and around the world joined together to organize, march, and protest with March for Our Lives, a demonstration against gun violence after the brutal high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.


As expected, teens continued to show the world that they're about to take it over, including Aalayah Eastmond, a self-described "regular black girl," who reminded protesters that gun violence disproportionately affects communities of color.  

"We’ve been fighting for this way too long, and nothing has changed, and we need change now," she said.

But it was the really young kids — students in elementary and middle school — who stole the show with their impassioned speeches demanding change.

"Our elected officials have seen American after American drop from a bullet," said Jaclyn Corin, a Parkland survivor. "And instead of waking up to protect us, they’ve been hitting the snooze button. We’re here to shake them awake."

She then surprised the crowd by bringing out Yolanda Renee King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s only grandchild.

"I have a dream that enough is enough," King said, echoing her historic grandfather. "And that this should be a gun-free world, period."

These young girls made it clear that our violence is abnormal, detrimental, and absolutely preventable. And this nation’s youth are going to see to it that lawmakers know that.

There was also 11-year-old Naomi Walder from Alexandria, Virginia, who rocked the house with her speech about women of color and activism.

Walder is making sure the disproportionate number of black women who have been victims of gun violence are at the forefront of this generation’s movement.

"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," Wadler said.  

There was also Christopher Underwood, an 11-year-old who lost his brother to gun violence in Brooklyn.  

"I have watched for years as gun violence continues to take a toll on communities across the country," Underwood said. "For me, I would like to not worry about dying and focus on math and science and playing basketball with my friends. Don't I deserve to grow up?"

And young Dezmond Floyd, a fifth-grader from Humble, Texas, who's disgusted with how students are forced to worry about safety at their own schools.

"How did America get to this point?" he asks.

"School, lunch, and recess is normal," Floyd said. "Dodgeball and freeze tag is normal. Columbine is not normal. Sandy Hook is not normal. Parkland is not normal. There’s nothing normal about the fact that my classroom, my classroom, can become a war zone at any given day at any given moment. But it doesn't have to be this way."    

There were plenty of kids who gave their support in their own creative ways, too.

Like these Boston public school students demanding funding for their schools instead of guns for teachers.

These super energized students from Los Angeles speaking out against gun violence in their community.

And this adorable baby from Philadelphia who wants the world to know that our littlest ones want safety, too.

These inspiring, incredible, and insanely badass kids are showing us just how powerful youth voices are.  

Historically, young Americans have led some of our most successful demonstrations demanding change, and it's clear this American tradition of youth leadership isn't going anywhere, if these kids have anything to do with it. Kids have changed the world once, and they're going to do it again.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

Our kids are making sure that we get there.

Read more on the March for Our Lives with stories on Parkland student Emma Gonzalez’s emotional silence, D.C. student Zion Kelly’s speech on losing his twin to gun violence, outstanding protest signs, and photos from around the country.

And if you want to support the anti-gun-violence movement, we have a quiz for the best way you can help.

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."