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Q&A with Beca Muñoz, a Boston March for Our Lives speaker

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Q&A with Beca Muñoz, a Boston March for Our Lives speaker

Katie McCreedy

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Beca Muñoz stood close to her sister, Leonor, as they faced the sea of protesters packed on Boston Common. The Muñoz sisters never imagined that they would become a vocal part of a national movement for gun control. “We want to tell you about February 14, 2018,” they said as they first addressed the crowd.  

For the next three minutes at Boston’s March for Our Lives, the sisters, who are residents of Parkland, Florida, detailed the fear they experienced during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where Leonor Muñoz is currently a student. Beca Muñoz, a second-year politics, philosophy and economics major at Northeastern, told thousands of people about the moment she received a message from her sister that there was an active shooter at her school — about the shock and worry she felt.

“Shooter still at large at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, it was real. My Earth shattered,” Beca Muñoz said during the speech. As the pair finished their speech, they declared the march was only the beginning of a growing movement.

The News spoke with Beca Muñoz about her experience in this significant moment in history and the change she hopes the march and continuing local anti-gun movement will inspire.

The Huntington News: What was it like to speak to a large crowd during a national movement?

Beca Muñoz: I think the speaking was the easiest part, actually. The organizing was the thing that required the most work. I have to give credit where credit is due — it was really the high school organizers that put in a big bulk of the work.

The thing that [Leonor and I] said was our favorite part was that we were able to see each other again. I think for me it was kind of shocking to be with her. I just had a lot of nightmares the days following the shooting and a lot of feelings that are hard to articulate, but seeing her, I think I realized how real her trauma is. I remember I needed to go to the bathroom and she was in there, so I knocked quickly on the door and the knocks kind of triggered her and I wasn’t prepared. No one’s ever prepared to see their sibling that way.

HN: How did you and your sister write the speech?

BM: I wrote my own speech and shared it with her. She wrote her own speech entirely separately from mine. So, she pieced them together and it was actually really interesting because when we talk about the day that it happened, like the piece where I write, “I remember not knowing how to respond and the only thing I knew how to say was I love you.” And in her piece she talks about how, “I remember the only time I cried that day was when my sister said she loved me.” So, it was just really interesting seeing the way we both wrote about that moment and that moment was so life-changing for both of us.

HN: How did your sister get to the event?

BM: My sister actually wasn’t supposed to come, or we just didn’t plan on it. I wasn’t able to book a flight home and I hadn’t seen my sister since the shooting. I wanted her to come to the Harvard event, where five of the Parkland kids came to Harvard and talked about the movement. So, I emailed a ton of people from Harvard saying, “Can my sister please be at this event?” And I emailed Emma [Gonzalez]. I told Leonor to tell Emma to pressure Harvard and [the school] said that we can’t offer her a spot on the stage, but she can be in the crowd. At that point, I had already been talking to the [March] organizers about possibly flying her in and they were like, “That would be so cool to do a joint speech.” She ended up not going to the Harvard event because my dad was like, “She can’t miss a week of school,” even though school isn’t really taking classes, it’s just Play-Doh and dogs and therapy.

HN: What was the purpose of the march for the organizers? What were you hoping to do?

BM: Our hope is to keep our messaging as solid as we did during the march, [to keep] the voices of communities of color central to this movement and [to make] sure gun reform is taken into effect in a way that would benefit all people …  We really wanted to frame the event in a way that showed that Parkland is not the whole story. It’s just the beginning of the story for this particular march. But even before Parkland, this movement was already here.

HN: Is there anything you would have changed about the event or would do differently in the future?

BM: I’m incredibly glad with how the things turned out. When we all came together, we decided the conversation would be about communities of color here in Boston. There was a lot of pushback to that, initially, and we had to cut people off, or tell people this is our message, our vision, and if you don’t follow this vision entirely, then a leadership position is not for you. And once we got that settled, every logistical step we made was following that core mission.

HN: Did you meet any of the other speakers? There is a photo of you with Elizabeth Warren, were you able to meet her?

BM: Yes, we had breakfast together. Well, it was cool, the coffee was hot. We can’t endorse any politician, we’re a non-partisan organization. But, I feel like the politicians are really starting to listen to us and I feel like we really need to hold them all accountable for their ratings and with the things that they support and the ways that they support other policies that can possibly be intersectional to this movement.

HN: What does the movement hope to see in terms of change?

BM: Moving forward, I think it’s important to move toward those achievable goals of passing policy changes and changing the conversation around these issues. But, I think ultimately there’s so much pain behind gun violence and hopefully it’s learning from that pain, channeling that pain toward energy and action and learning how to handle that together as a community is how we’ll get through it.

 

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Q&A with Beca Muñoz, a Boston March for Our Lives speaker