Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Declaration of Independence! She Persisted: Thirteen American Women Who Changed The World by Chelsea Clinton

What took us so long?

When Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, more than half of "we the people" were not really citizens. Some were slaves, of course, but most were simply... females. Adult women had fewer rights than little boys. They often had no schooling. They couldn't own property, even that inherited from their parents; everything, even their personal wardrobes and jewelry, legally belonged to their husbands. And of course, they couldn't hold political office or vote.

It took 132 long years for women to get the vote, but women had been busy all along seeking the right to be free to control their own lives. And now, almost 100 years after getting the vote, women are still working at equal opportunity. How do they do it?

They persist.

In her best-selling She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World (Philomel Books, 2017), author Chelsea Clinton tells those story of those women who persisted in finding personal freedom--women like Helen Keller, Nelly Bly, Margaret Chaise Smith, Maria Tall Chief, and Sally Ride--those who were the first to break their own glass ceilings to gain equality in their public and professional lives.

Other famous "first timers" included in this collective biography are also Clara Lamlich, a worker who first negotiated labor rights for her fellow female garment workers, Ruby Bridges, the African-American first grader who all alone integrated her school, Virginia Apgar, whose persisted to become a surgeon and created the Apgar Scale by which all newborns are still evaluated, Claudia Colvin, who "sat in" on a bus even before Rosa Parks, Florence Griffith Joyner, Olympic multi-medalist, Oprah Winfrey, media mogul, and Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice. All had different spheres of interest and special abilities, but they all shared one thing--persistence.

With a lively narration that describes the various childhoods of these pioneers and the charming illustrations of noted artist Alexandra Boiger, this celebration of personal liberty should be a first purchase for all middle readers. In their starred review, Publishers Weekly says this one is a "lovely, moving work of children’s literature [and a] polished introduction to a diverse and accomplished group of women.”

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