Washington, D.C. – Today, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi met with students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during their pizza and ‘sign-making’ party ahead of the March for Our Lives to end gun violence. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
“Thank you so much for the invitation to be here. We have work to do, and we have signs to make and steps to take to get the job done.
“I really appreciate the invitation. I know I was invited to join some of you earlier today for the press conference. I couldn’t be there because I had to be in Rochester. And why I tell you that is because it was magnificent. It was just fabulous for my colleague Louise Slaughter. She was a champion and a fighter for gun violence prevention. Why I’m telling you this is because when her granddaughter spoke, she said: ‘she taught me to act upon my beliefs. And that’s why tomorrow at 5:00 in the morning, I’m going to be on a plane to Washington, D.C. to join the March for Our Lives.’
“And, no comment got a bigger ovation from the thousands of people that were there than that comment – a standing, prolonged ovation; and that’s because of you. The drumbeat across America that you are creating with your persistence, insistence, eloquence, energy and courage.
“When I was coming back on the plane, I was talking to John Lewis, who also spoke at the program. I told John: ‘I’m going to speak to some young people tonight; I want to make sure I have this exactly right.’ I’ve seen and read in history that the march from Selma to Montgomery was begun by high school students.
“They were appalled that their parents didn’t have the right to vote. What they did was insist, in a respectful way, that their teachers be registered to vote. And when they did that, they called attention to everything. The teachers did a boycott, and it caused a lot of attention. They said: ‘we are going to have a march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge; and we invite Martin Luther King and John Lewis. It turned into an international focus. And it made all the difference in the world.
“Now, you are high school students. You have an advantage that they didn’t have: technology and social media. So, everything you do is to the nth degree immediately. You have the power to mobilize in real time. And look at the result you have produced already.
“But we are not finished until we are finished. And we are not going away until we are finished, until the job is done.
“Understand that young people have changed the civil rights situation in our country.
“I say to you what I say to my Members: I rather win the vote on background checks and gun violence safety protections than win the election. And if Republicans won’t do that, we have have to change their minds or change who’s in office – because we must get the job done.
“And I tell this to my colleagues: there is not a single person in the world whose political survival is more important than the survival of our children.
“So here we are. We have an opportunity. In government, two things happen to make change: the internal maneuvering and outside mobilization – the voices of the people. President Lincoln said: ‘public sentiment is everything.’
“As you are organizing and mobilizing, remember this one thing: nothing is more eloquent to a Member of Congress than the voice of his or her own constituent. You have to tell a friend to call a Republican if you don’t have a Republican Member of Congress.
“What do you choose: the NRA or the children of America? It’s a simple choice.
“A lot of my Members are walking around with a pin that says ‘F’. First I thought, ‘my goodness, what’s that?’
“But, what that ‘F’ is is an ‘F’ rating from the NRA. They are proud of their pin.
“You inspire us. You give us hope.”