Jon Stewart had almost no jokes for his audience Thursday night in the wake of Wednesday’s mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Instead, Stewart chose to focus the bulk of his show on the night’s guest, Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year-old Pakistani who won a Nobel Peace Prize for her work advocating for children’s rights and education.
“Our guest tonight is an incredible person who suffered unspeakable violence by extremists and her perseverance and determination through that to continue on is an incredible inspiration,” Stewart said. “And to be quite honest with you, I don’t think there’s anyone else in the world that I would rather talk to tonight.”
She was on the show discussing girls’ education and Davis Guggenheim's upcoming documentary, “He Named Me Malala,” which is described as an "intimate portrait" of Yousafzai's extraordinary life.
The teen told Stewart it’s important for regular people to speak up about injustice.
“Sometimes we wait for others, and think that Martin Luther should rise among us, and Nelson Mandela should rise among us and speak up for us,” she said. “But we never realize that there are normal humans like us, and if we step forward, we can also bring change just like them.”
Yousafzai’s life exemplifies that philosophy. She began to gain international attention in 2009, when she wrote a blog for the BBC about living under the influence of the Taliban. She subsequently became an international advocate for girls’ education.
The teen was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012 while riding a bus home from school. A group of men boarded the bus, asked for Yousafzai specifically and shot her in the head. After her recovery, she founded the Malala Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to helping girls worldwide attend school. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.
Stewart joked that, with the teen looking forward to college applications in the next couple of years, she “might want to work on her resume.”