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Watch teen tennis star Coco Gauff deliver powerful speech about racial injustice

The 16-year-old phenom urged people to vote and to use their voice because "we need to not be silent."
/ Source: TODAY

Teen tennis star Coco Gauff called for people to take action and use their voice during a powerful speech at a Black Lives Matter rally in her Florida hometown Wednesday.

The 16-year-old posted video on Twitter of her speech in Delray Beach, which came amid nationwide protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.

She was joined in the crowd by her grandmother, whom Gauff said protested for civil rights in the 1960s.

"I think it’s sad that I’m here protesting the same thing that she did 50-plus years ago," Gauff said. "So I’m here to tell you guys that we must first love each other no matter what.

"We must have the tough conversations with our friends. I’ve been spending all week having tough conversations, trying to educate my non-black friends on how they can help the movement."

Gauff stressed the need to take action by voting even though she's just under two years away from being legally old enough to vote.

"I'm not of age to vote, but it's in your hands to vote for my future, for my brother's future and for your future,'' she said. "So that's one way to make change."

Gauff, who became a sensation last year when she upset Venus Williams in the opening round at Wimbledon, urged everyone to speak up about racial injustice.

"No matter how big or small your platform is, you need to use your voice,'' she said. "I saw a Dr. King quote that said, 'The silence of the good people is worse than the brutality of the bad people.' We need to not be silent. If you are choosing silence, you are choosing the side of the oppressor."

Anyone who has any connection to the black community should be speaking out, according to Gauff.

"I heard many things this past week, and one of the things I heard is, 'Well, it's not my problem.' So this is why I have to tell you this: If you listen to black music, if you like black culture, if you have black friends, then this is your fight too!"

Her speech was lauded by the tennis community and beyond.

"Thank you for being a girl that my daughter will learn from and look up to," four-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters tweeted. "I promise that we will keep on teaching our kids the right thing to do so that they can pass it on too. It all starts at home!"

"Coco, you are wise beyond your years. Thank you ... for standing up, for your bravery, for your example, for your humanity," former Grand Slam doubles champion and tennis broadcaster Chanda Rubin tweeted.

Gauff also spoke out about Floyd's death on May 26, a day after he died when a police officer was filmed with his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes.

"I am in tears watching this video... everyday innocent people are dying because of our skin color," she tweeted. "No one deserves to die like that. I just can’t believe this. This needs to stop. #GeorgeFloyd."

In her speech Wednesday, Gauff referenced the stories of many other unarmed black people whose deaths made national headlines in the past 10 years.

"I demand change now, and I'm sad that it takes another black man's life to be lost for all of this to happen, but we have to understand that this has been going on for years,'' she said.

“This is not just about George Floyd. This is about Trayvon Martin. This is about Eric Garner. This is about Breonna Taylor. This is about stuff that’s been happening. I was 8 years old when Trayvon Martin was killed. So why am I here at 16, still demanding change? And it breaks my heart because I’m fighting for the future for my brothers. I’m fighting for the future for my future kids. I’m fighting for the future of my future grandchildren. So, we must change now."