After Senator Elizabeth Warren was silenced yesterday on the Senate floor, a new battle cry was born. Nevertheless, she persisted has taken over social feeds as a powerful statement of strength and perseverance within the intersectional feminist movement. Many social posts feature iconic women of history who stood up against social injustice of various forms. But not all female activists are grown women, many are BA teenage girls – girls with strong voices and missions that cannot be stopped. They are teen girls who nevertheless persisted, and we are all about it!
10 Teen Girls Who Nevertheless Persisted
Claudette Colvin is an underrated heroine of the Civil Rights Movement. On March 2, 1955, when she was only 15 years old, Claudette was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus in segregated Montgomery, Alabama. Her act of defiance came 9 months before that of Rosa Parks. Of her experience, Claudette said, “It felt like Sojourner Truth was on one side pushing me down, and Harriet Tubman was on the other side of me pushing me down. I couldn’t get up.” We’re glad she didn’t.
Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban in 2012 after standing up for the education of girls in Pakistan. Overnight she transformed from a Pakistani activist to a universal symbol of the vitality and resilience of the teenage girl. She has since addressed the UN and other international communities, as well as published a book. Her remarkable words rise above the destruction of Taliban leadership, who for Malala, “could take my pens and books, but couldn’t stop my mind from thinking.”
Paige Rawls was born HIV positive and in 6th grade was forced to quit her middle school in Indianapolis due to severe bullying. Instead of hiding, Paige decide to speak up about her experience. She is committed to transforming the stigma of kids who have HIV, sharing her story, and creating her own network of support. She tells people, “HIV does not define who I am.”
Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny is a resident of Flint, Michigan dubbed “Little Miss Flint” for speaking out about the problems with Michigan’s water system. She attended the Women’s March in DC and was named the youngest ambassador by the March’s organizers. She marched in protest of the water contamination in Flint and the continued humanitarian crisis in her hometown. Her battle cry: “Justice for Flint.”
Maryam al-Khawaja is a Bahraini human rights activist with a long family history of activism. After graduating from the University of Bahrain in 2009, Maryam received a Fulbright scholarship to Brown University. When she returned to Bahrain, she became involved at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, worked as a translator for journalists, and now provides real-time social coverage of social protests overlooked by major news sources. She lives in self-enforced exile in Denmark.
Anne Frank‘s story is one of optimism and hope in a time of great darkness in history. While she and her family were murdered at the end of WWII due to the Gestapo raiding their hiding place, her words have lived on as inspiration for many campaigns for human rights and respect. Published by her father in 1947, her diary has been translated into 67 languages and has sold over 30 million copies. Her legacy: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
Zhan Haite is a Chinese activist who stood up against her country’s residence registration system, the hukou. This system of oppression ties millions of migrant workers to their rural hometowns and denies them access to education anywhere outside of their ancestral villages. After being denied entrance to high school in Shanghai, Zhan organised a protest in front of Shanghai’s education bureau, posted a flurry of dissenting social media, and wrote an op-ed in the China Daily newspaper. In her own words, “A free and democratic country cannot be made up of slaves.”
Zea Tongeman is a British tech geek in the best way. She built her first app when she was 14 years old to help raise awareness about recycling. The app, Jazzy Recycling, was created to help users find places to recycle as well as incentivized their participation through social media. As a young woman in tech, she wants all girls to know that tech is not, “for boys in their bedrooms who can’t get girlfriends, we are the new generation and we can use technology as a tool to do all sorts of different things.”
Ruby Bridges, while not a teenager, was the first black girl to attend an all-white elementary school in New Orleans on November 14, 1960. She became the famous subject of a Norman Rockwell painting and is a key figure in the Civil Rights Movement and desegregation. Of her experience, she reflects, “They didn’t see a child. They saw change, and what they thought was being taken from them.”
The Boss Babes of Girl Up is a U.N. Foundation sponsored community of +5,000 teen girl volunteers in 66 countries. They advocate and raise money for every girl’s right to an education, of which it is estimated 62 million do not have access to. They also work to ensure that all girls can obtain official government identification papers, receive proper health care, and learn the skills necessary to pursue their dreams. Get involved here!
Cover image via NPR.