In an interview with NBC Learn, Chelsea Clinton talks about some of the inspirational American women featured in her children's book, "She Persisted."
Chelsea Clinton on “She Persisted”
CHELSEA CLINTON, author, “She Persisted”:
So much of American history, really, can be told through the stories of women and men who have persisted over obstacles. Persist means to me that you just keep going; that regardless of whatever obstacles come your way, you keep going.
I'm really grateful to be able to share stories of women in "She Persisted", and highlight how their persistence has helped our country continue to grow and evolve, I think, really, for the better over time. I think that we have an obligation to learn from their stories, to feel inspired by them, as we think about the challenges that we confront in our world today, and what we each should then be doing to help build a better world for today, and particularly for tomorrow.
Each of these stories that I include in "She Persisted" are ones that have inspired me.
I remember reading a book about Harriet Tubman when I was in elementary school, and just being over-awed by her courage, her humanity, and yes, her persistence. She escaped slavery, and yet she continued to return to the south and liberated untold numbers of people, including children. I think that's really amazing.
Helen Keller was determined to learn to read and speak, to write, to be as educated as her energies and her natural abilities would take her. And what Helen Keller imagined not only for herself, but really for everyone, is illustrative of the stories in "She Persisted", women and sometimes quite young girls who knew what they were doing was right for themselves and also for others.
I first learned about Margaret Chase Smith when I was a little girl from my mom, because she was one of the women that inspired my mother. Margaret Chase Smith was the first American woman to serve in both the house and the senate. She was one of the people who stood most strongly against McCarthyism and stood out in affirmation of the sanctity of the freedom of speech in our country.
I have long been fascinated by the night sky. That Sally Ride was the first American woman in space was so personally inspiring to me, I just thought I have to include her story because I don't think I'm the only person that does, or will, find her so inspiring. She spent so much of her later life teaching and encouraging young girls and young women to become engineers and to have dreams rooted in the space program.
My mother has inspired me my whole life; she continues to inspire me today. And so I include her with the help of the amazing Alexandra Boiger, the illustrator, in the opening gallery scene, when the little girls are looking at portraits of women who are included in the book, and my mom's portrait is there as one of the women who's inspired me.
I hope that sharing these stories of activists, artists, athletes, journalists who really imagined new careers for themselves as women, as Americans, as citizens, hopefully inspires the imagination of little girls and little boys alike so that they realized they can help change their schools, their neighborhood, their communities, our country and our world.
I think we have an obligation to help young people imagine themselves in our future and the ways in which they want to see themselves and the world they want to live in. And I think we'll all benefit from that.