CityViews: On 60th Anniversary Of ‘Little Rock 9,’ Chelsea Clinton, Pioneer Claudette Colvin, Discuss Civil Rights, Clinton’s Book ‘She Persisted’

1010 WINS — Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stopped by CityViews to talk about her new children’s book, “She Persisted.”

“She Persisted” tells illustrated stories about 13 American women who changed the world. She told host Sharon Barnes-Waters she was inspired to write the book after witnessing Sen. Elizabeth Warren being silenced by Sen. Mitch McConnell while she was attempting to read a letter from Coretta Scott King at now Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing.

McConnell objected that Warren had broken Senate rules and censured her saying, “She was warned, she was given an explanation, never the less, she persisted.”

“I don’t think he knew how many women & men were going to take it as a rallying cry to continue to stand up for or stay seated for what is right at every moment regardless of what is happening at any given moment in our country,” Clinton said.

When asked why she decided to make it a children’s book, Clinton said, “I think the stories that we tell our children profoundly impact what they think is possible or impossible and whether they think it’s okay to be brave or not. Whether they’re inspired to dream of being astronauts or athletes, even if they haven’t seen someone that looks like them doing just that thing on television or in the newspaper.”

One of the 13 women who inspired Clinton was civil rights pioneer Claudette Colvin, whose story she first heard about when she was going to high school in Little Rock, Arkansas and was learning about the “Little Rock 9,” a group of nine African-American students who entered an all white high school via escort from the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division.

Black History Month One-On-One: Civil Rights Activist Claudette Colvin

Colvin joined Clinton on stage and was asked by Chelsea to talk about the day in On March 2, 1955 when she was arrested at age 15 because she refused to give up her seat to a white woman on a Montgomery Alabama Bus.

Colvin told the story of that fateful day 52 years ago and recalled how she had just discussed in school all of the injustices and discrimination that African-Americans faced during Black History Month and how they were deliberately left out of American history. Two brave women in particular were her favorites: Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman.

“Harriet Tubman because she was a brave woman who led the underground railroad,” she said. Colvin then said how one student said there was no underground railroad in the south so the instructor had to explain what it was.

“That discussion led me to thinking, so I told the news reporters and all the people that asked me, ‘Why didn’t you move when the bus driver asked you to give up your seat?’ and I said ‘I didn’t move because history, Chelsea, had me glued to the seat.'”

“It felt like Harriet Tubman’s hands were pushing me down on one shoulder and Sojourner Truth’s hands were pushing me down on another shoulder. The life of these two women — their activism gave me the strength and the courage to do what I did. And I said this is my day and my time to do it.”

Another woman who made the book was Republican Sen. Margaret Chase Smith who happened to inspire her mother Hillary.

And although Chelsea does not include her mother as one of the 13 women in the book, she does make a cameo. One of the pages depicts children going to a museum and seeing pictures of women who persisted — Hillary Clinton is one of those women pictured in the museum. 

Chelsea talked about how her mother has inspired her and so many others.

“As a mom now, I’m so grateful to my mother for the role model that she gave me as an actively engaged mom in her family first and foremost, because I never doubted I was the most important person in the world to her… My mother has inspired me my whole life.”

Today, September 25, is the 60th Anniversary of the Little Rock 9.

Watch the entire interview above.

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