Following Senator Elizabeth Warren being silenced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell during a session on February 7, the hashtag, #ShePersisted has offered a new battle cry to women. The Atlantic reports Warren was interrupted while reading a letter written by Coretta Scott King, in which she opposed newly appointed Attorney General Jeff Session’s then potential elevation from U.S. attorney to federal judge. The hashtag was inspired after McConnell prevented Warren from finishing her speech and later said, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” #ShePersisted applauds women who are unashamed of their voice and unafraid to resist. As Black History Month comes to a close, here are five courageous black women who encourage us to resist and persist.
1. Ruby Bridges
Bridges was only six years old when she became the first African American student to desegregate the William Frantz Elementary School in Mississippi. Despite the violent backlash of white parents, #ShePersisted in her pursuit of an education and graduated from a desegregated high school. In 1999, Bridges established The Ruby Bridges Foundation to promote tolerance and change through education.
2. Bree Newsome
Newsome was arrested in 2015 after scaling a 30-foot flagpole outside of the state Capitol in South Carolina so that she could remove the Confederate flag. Though police had surrounded the area prior to her reaching the flag, #ShePersisted in reaching the top. At the time, lawmakers were voting whether the Capitol should be allowed to let the flag fly, but considering what the Confederate flag represented for Blacks in the U.S, Newsome felt the only option was to tear it down.
3. Angela Davis
Davis has had a long career as an author, activist, and educator, focusing her work on dissecting and critiquing racism and its intersectional form, as well as its place in the criminal justice system. #ShePersisted and is still active in her civil rights work, having recently given a speech at the Women’s March on Washington. Read the full transcript of her speech here.
4. Dorothy Height
Height dedicated her advocacy to the rights of women and African Americans. She was one of the primary organizers of the March on Washington, but was not allowed by her male colleagues to deliver a speech. Despite this, #ShePersisted, and went on to co-found the National Women’s Political Caucus. She was recognized for her persistence in civil rights, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from in 1994 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.
5. Ieshia Evans
You’ve probably seen the 2016 viral photo of the young woman calmly standing in front of two policemen, charging to arrest her. Evans is a 35-year-old nurse and mother, and was amongst more than a hundred people protesting police brutality in Baton Rough, La. The protests followed the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling. Though the group of protestors were threatened with the possibility of arrest, #ShePersisted and made her stand, stepping towards the line of police.
Let the #ShePersisted hashtag motivate you to stand up, move forward, raise your words, and resist silence.
By Abby Welles