This has been another brutal news week. While we all did our best not to let the thought of political vitriol and tragic human rights violations completely ruin our Independence Day celebrations, it would be an understatement to say that this year’s Fourth of July left many Americans with a bad taste in our mouths.
However, as we’ve seen again and again throughout history, dark times give rise to inspiring figures who give us hope for the future, and become role models to whom we look for leadership while fighting for what we know to be right and just.
There are many bad-ass women who inspire me every day, but this week, these three women have been making headlines and challenging the American political system as we know it, in some of the greatest demonstrations of American values that I’ve ever seen. I hope you will be as inspired by their bravery as I am.
In no particular order:
1. Therese Okoumou, the woman who scaled the Statue of Liberty on The Fourth of July to protest family separation at the border.
Okoumou, herself a naturalized citizen born in the Republic of Congo, climbed close to a hundred feet up the pedestal to reach Lady Liberty yesterday, in protest of the president’s policy of removing and separating and/or detaining asylum-seeking families indefinitely. CNN reported that she was up there for more than three hours, saying she refused to come down until “all the children are released.” She was eventually plucked from the statue by NYPD without incident, and later thanked the first-responders for helping her down.
Today, Okoumou emerged from a Manhattan courthouse wearing a black shirt with the words “White supremacy is terrorism” written on the front. In a statement to the press, as reported by The Daily Mail, she said:
“Michelle Obama says when they go low, we go high, and I went as high as I could. Trump has ripped this country apart. It is depressing, it is outrageous. I can say a lot of things about this monster, but I will stop at this: his draconian zero-tolerance policy on immigration has to go. In a democracy, we do not put children in cages. Period.”
2. Kristin Mink, the woman who approached scandal-ridden EPA Director Scott Pruitt when she saw that he was sitting near her at a restaurant, asking him to resign…He resigned four days later.
A now-viral video posted to her Facebook account Monday shows Mink approached Pruitt with her young son and a written list of talking points, and calmly explained several of the reasons that she believed he should resign from his office as director of The Environmental Protection Agency, “before your scandals force you out.”
Four days later on Thursday, President Trump announced Pruitt’s resignation via Twitter. In his letter of resignation, Pruitt does not mention the conversation with Mink as a reason for his leaving—it’s not like he needed more reasons, tbh—but it’s hard to imagine that her words didn’t play at least some role in his decision.
Not long after the news of his leaving the EPA broke, Mink tweeted the following question for the president:
“Hey @realDonaldTrump where are you going to lunch tomorrow?”
3. Maxine Waters, the California Congresswoman who responded to death threats with incredible bravery at Saturday’s Families Belong Together March in Los Angeles.
Rep. Waters is a long-time critic of Trump’s, and recently had to cancel speaking engagements because of death threats she received after asking supporters to confront and “push back” on members of his cabinet that they see in public.
She responded to those threats Saturday, during her speech at the national march to end family separation last Saturday.
Waters’ entire speech is incredible, but this particular passage has been heavily covered in the news this week. I’ll let her words speak for themselves:
“I know there are those who are talking about censuring me, talking about kicking me out of Congress, talking about shooting me, talking about hanging me. All I have to say is this: If you shoot me, you better shoot straight. There’s nothing like a wounded animal.”
These women and their powerful words kept me going this week, and I hope they do the same for you.
Are there any other bad-ass women in politics that inspired you this week? Or any week?
Let me know who inspires you in the comments!