As Sally Ride and Marian Wright Edelman both powerfully said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” When Sally Ride said that, she meant that it was hard to dream of being an astronaut, like she was, or a doctor or an athlete or anything at all if you didn’t see someone like you who already had lived that dream. She especially was talking about seeing women in jobs that historically were held by men.
I wrote the first She Persisted
and the books that came after it because I wanted young girls—and children of all genders—to see women who worked hard to live their dreams. And I wanted all of us to see examples of persistence in the face of different challenges to help inspire us in our own lives.
I’m so thrilled now to partner with a sisterhood of writers to bring longer, more in-depth versions of these stories of women’s persistence and achievement to readers. I hope you enjoy these chapter books as much as I do and find them inspiring and empowering.
And remember: If anyone ever tells you no, if anyone ever says your voice isn’t important or your dreams are too big, remember these women. They persisted and so should you.
Warmly,Chelsea ClintonTABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1: A Community of Music
Chapter 2: Finishing School
Chapter 3: World Travels
Chapter 4: Marian Sings
Chapter 5: New Experiences
Chapter 6: Growing Legacies
How You Can Persist
A Community of Music
Along, long time ago, it was common for some mothers to deliver their babies at home. On February 27, 1897, Marian Elina-Blanche Anderson was born in a room in a house on Webster St. in South Philadelphia. Marian was Anna and John Anderson’s first child. Then came Alyse, and next was Ethel.
Marian’s parents worked hard to keep a roof over their heads. John worked in the refrigerator room at the Reading Terminal Market. He also sold ice and coal. Besides taking care of her three girls, Anna was a seamstress and she did other folks’ laundry. Marian always looked forward to her dad coming home from work—especially on those Fridays when he brought pound cake!
Early on, Marian showed an interest in music. Before she turned two, she would sit at her toy piano, hit the keys, and make up songs. She loved hearing and making sounds with or without an instrument. Anna said Marian could stay busy for an hour clapping her hands, stomping her feet, and singing—lala-lala-la!
Marian was delighted with all the different sounds she could make.
Marian couldn’t help but love music. It was everywhere. At home, Anna and John sang hymns around the house, and the family sang songs together after dinner. After Marian’s daddy bought a used piano, she would sit next to him on the bench and practice the scales. Sometimes he let Marian think she was teaching him how to play.
Just going outside was a musical adventure. One day when she was about eight years old, Marian went on an errand for her mother and heard a piano playing. She followed the sounds of the tinkling melody up some steps, and there she saw a woman in the window, hands on the piano keys, making beautiful music. The woman was brown, like Marian. Hmmm
, Marian thought, If she can, I can.
Music was at school, too—in music class. And when other students had their music lessons in a nearby classroom, she could hear them singing through the walls. She was mesmerized. The sound of their voices was a sweet inspiration for young Marian, who sang along quietly. When she heard the singing, Marian no longer heard what her teacher was saying.
Music embraced Marian like a cozy blanket on a chilly night.
Copyright © 2022 by Katheryn Russel-Brown with introduction by Chelsea Clinton; illustrated by Alexandra Boiger and Gillian Flint. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.