Women Who Persisted
TIME For Kids speaks with Chelsea Clinton about her children’s book, She Persisted
This story originally appeared in TIME For Kids.
Chelsea Clinton is the daughter of former U.S. president Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. She is Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation, a published author, a special correspondent for NBC, and a mother. While Clinton has accomplished much in her own life, she is always searching for new ways to inspire the next generation.
In Clinton’s first kids’ book, It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going!, she writes about issues such as poverty and climate change and urges young people to take action. In her new picture book, She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed The World, Clinton shines a light on women who have spoken out for what’s right, even when they had to fight to be heard.
Clinton’s inspiration for the book began with a single moment in February 2017 when Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, spoke out against the nomination of Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, of Alabama, for United States Attorney General. Warren did so by reading a 1986 letter written by Coretta Scott King, the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in which King criticized Sessions. As Warren read from the letter, however, Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, interrupted and warned her to stop. Warren refused. But she was soon told to take her seat. Later, McConnell said, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” The final phrase quickly became a rallying cry for women. “I was so struck by that and how she refused to be dissuaded,” Clinton told TIME For Kids.
Harriet Tubman, Sally Ride, and Sonia Sotomayor are among the 13 women Clinton writes about in She Persisted.
TFK Kid Reporter Caroline Curran talked to Clinton about the book, out May 30.
TIME FOR KIDS:
What inspired you to write She Persisted?
Like so many Americans, I was deeply inspired by Senator Warren’s persistence in bringing Coretta Scott King’s words to the senate floor. When Mitch McConnell said, “Nevertheless, she persisted,” I took that as such a compliment and badge of honor on behalf of Senator Warren and all of the women who have persisted throughout American history. I was thinking about how to explain that moment to my two children. I was thinking about showing them women who have persisted throughout American history. My wonderful editor at Penguin Books was thinking the same. We decided that we wanted to start working on aShe Persisted book together, and we got to work!
Your book features 13 American women who have made their mark and changed the world. Why do you think it’s important for kids to learn about these women?
[Astronaut] Sally Ride said something that I think about often, which is that it is hard for us to imagine what we can’t see. She was so determined in her life to work with young girls and help them understand that they, too, can be astronauts, physicists, and scientists. I hope that She Persisted shows young leaders that you really can be anything that you want to be whether that is an astronaut or an athlete. I hope that this book includes stories that . . . will empower young readers — girls and boys alike.
Which women have inspired you throughout your life?
All of the 13 women I write about have inspired me. I remember watching [Olympic track-and-field athlete] Florence Griffith Joyner break world records in 1988, long before you were born, Caroline. I remember learning about Sally Ride going to space when I was a little girl. I remember learning about Doctor [Virginia] Apgar when I was pregnant and how she invented the test that is still used around the world to assess a newborn baby’s health. I have long been inspired by all of these women and their contributions to our history, none of which would have been possible without their persistence, often through and over unimaginable obstacles.
Can you share a story about a time when you persisted and it paid off?
I have been incredibly blessed and privileged in my life. Blessed in the sense that I have never doubted that my parents and grandparents love me and support me. Privileged in the sense that I never had to worry about a roof over my head, food on the table, a good school to go to, or a safe place to play. I was also privileged to know that if I worked hard, good things would hopefully come. What is so important is to think about how we can expand the circle of blessings and persist through what may seem daunting to us in a given day. When you compare them to what so many women in She Persisted overcame, they are quite minor. I would never compare anything in my life to their challenges. I am grateful the women in She Persistedovercame for all of us.
What piece of advice do you have for kids who are inspired by your book?
Take that inspiration and turn it into action. If they are inspired by the story of what someone did in a particular field, direct their dreams into that, whether it is science, journalism, or activism. Think about how they can make their marks today and also as they grow up. Arguably, we need everyone engaged now more than ever. We need to think about how to tackle the problems we see both in our local communities and in the larger world around us.