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Last night, in a bid to keep Sen. Jeff Sessions from becoming the new attorney general, Sen. Elizabeth Warren read a letter Coretta Scott King wrote in 1986 against Sessions’ nomination for federal judgeship, citing Sessions’ racism and opposition to voting rights legislation. Sen. Mitch McConnell interrupted Warren and invoked Senate Rule XIX to silence her and forbid any other senator from bringing up Sessions’ record. As an explanation, McConnell said of Warren, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
Well, the joke’s on you, McConnell, because you just created the newest feminist slogan!
Almost immediately after news broke, #ShePersisted began trending, with women taking it as a rallying cry and posting the photos and stories of other strong women in history who’ve persisted.
“Nevertheless she persisted” is the contemptible lament of every old white man who has tried and failed to silence an indomitable woman.
— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) February 8, 2017
Some are saying that McConnell misinterpreted Senate Rule XIX, which states that “No senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another senator or to other senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator.” Others are pointing out that the gag rule originated to keep conversations of abolition out of the House, and that yet again it was used to silence the words of a black person.
After Sen. Warren was silenced, she—yup!—persisted, taking to Facebook Live to read King’s letter. As of this publishing, the video of her reading King’s letter has been viewed over 7.3 million times.
[Placeholder for https://www.facebook.com/senatorelizabethwarren/videos/724337794395383/ video embed.]
Sen. Sessions’ confirmation vote takes place this evening.
Jaya Saxena is a lifestyle writer and editor whose work focuses primarily on women's issues and web culture. Her writing has appeared in GQ, ELLE, the Toast, the New Yorker, Tthe Hairpin, BuzzFeed, Racked, Eater, Catapult, and others. She is the co-author of 'Dad Magazine,' the author of 'The Book Of Lost Recipes,' and the co-author of 'Basic Witches.'