Green shoes become a powerful symbol for the pain of school shootings

Camila Alves McConaughey, wife of actor Matthew McConaughey, holds a pair of shoes worn by one of the victims of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
Camila Alves McConaughey, wife of actor Matthew McConaughey, holds a pair of shoes worn by one of the victims of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, during the daily news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on June 07, 2022 in Washington, DC. Photo credit Getty Images

Actor and Uvalde, Texas native Matthew McConaughey delivered an impassioned speech at the White House on Tuesday as he painted a picture of the lives taken in the Robb Elementary School shooting while calling for gun control laws.

But no moment during his speech was as powerful as when he shared the story of 9-year-old victim Maite Rodriguez, who was so badly injured that the only clear evidence of her identity was her trademark sneakers.

The 52-year-old Oscar winner explained that Maite, who dreamed of becoming a marine biologist, often wore her favorite pair of green high-top Converse shoes with a heart drawn over her right toe to represent her love of nature.

"She was already in contact with Corpus Christi University of A&M for her future college enrollment," the actor said. "Nine years old."

McConaughey then gestured to his wife Camila, who was holding the shoes.

"These are the same green Converse, on her feet, that turned out to be the only clear evidence that could identify her after the shooting,” McConaughey said, his voice breaking as he smacked the podium. "How about that?"

In a Facebook post, Maite's mother Ana Rodriguez, also pointed to her daughter's favorite "lime green Converse."

"Her favorite color was green and she loved those lime green Converse, so much so that she drew a heart on the right one," Rodriguez wrote. "She was sweet, charismatic, loving, caring, loyal, free, ambitious, funny, silly, goal driven and best of all my very best friend!"

"This horrific and senseless nightmare that I just can't seem to wake up from has absolutely crushed and debilitated my life and heart," she added. "The passing of my beautiful daughter has rocked me to my core."

After sharing her story, McConaughey reminded legislators that it is their responsibility to keep America's children safe.

"We start by making the loss of these lives matter," he said. "We are in a window of opportunity right now that we have not been in before, a window where it seems like real change — real change can happen."

McConaughey, who considered running for governor of Texas in 2021 before deciding not to enter the race, called on legislators to pass "laws that save innocent lives and don't infringe on our Second Amendment rights.

"We got a chance right now to reach for and to grasp a higher ground above our political affiliations, a chance to make a choice that does more than protect your party, a chance to make a choice that protects our country now and for the next generation," he said. "We got to get some real courage and honor our immortal obligations instead of our party affiliations."

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images