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 Girl Called Dee Dee
Chapter 2: Everything!
Chapter 3: Inches Away
Chapter 4: Bittersweet
Chapter 5: Going for the Gold
Chapter 6: Dreams and Beyond
How You Can Persist
A Girl Called Dee Dee
Florence Griffith Joyner was an Olympic champion who won gold medals and broke world records as a sprinter. But before there was Florence Griffith Joyner, or “Flo-Jo,” there was a girl called Dee Dee.
Long before she was born, her newly married parents, Robert and Florence Delores Griffith, lived in a small town in the Mojave Desert, where their family grew. The Mojave Desert spans from southeastern Los Angeles, California, to parts of Nevada, Arizona and Utah, and the Griffith family lived in the area near Los Angeles. The Mojave Desert is a hot, dry, wide-open space with mountain ranges, sagebrush and red desert blooms on tops of prickly cactus plants. The calls of owls, coyotes and bobcats peppered the night air. In the daytime the Griffiths’ backyard was plentiful with lizards, snakes, slow-moving tortoises, fast jackrabbits—and kids!
In 1959, Christmas came early for the six Griffith children. On December 21st, Bobby, Weldon, Vivian, Kathleen, Robert and Elizabeth welcomed their seventh sibling, Delorez Florence Griffith, into the family.
Delorez Florence Griffith was named after her mother, Florence Delores. Mrs. Griffith wanted her daughter to be her own unique self. So, her first name, Delorez, had its own spelling, and Florence was her middle name. The Griffiths took to calling their newest family member Dee Dee.
Mrs. Griffith saw something special in each of her seven children. In Dee Dee she saw a child who seemed to float like a ballerina as she moved. But Dee Dee was also speedy and earned another nickname, Lightning, as she ran through the house.
Mr. and Mrs. Griffith found ways to keep their children’s minds and bodies active. Mrs. Griffith, a fast runner, played racing games with her children. She would line them up and call, “Ready, set, go!” Off they’d run! Even though Dee Dee’s brothers and sisters were older, that didn’t stop Dee Dee from racing to win.
Copyright © 2021 by Chelsea Clinton. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.