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 Sunny Childhood
Chapter 2: Trouble
Chapter 3: Forging Her Path
Chapter 4: Fighting for Equality
Chapter 5: Democracy and Determination
Chapter 6: A Lasting Impact
How You Can Persist
A Sunny Childhood
Patsy Matsu Takemoto was born in 1927 on the island of Maui, in Hawaii. Maui was a land of sunshine, white sand beaches, and warm trade winds. But though the island was beautiful, its people were going through a difficult time.
In 1898, the United States annexed Hawaii. This meant that the US government stole control of the islands from the Hawaiian people and declared Hawaii a US “territory.” This was a dark time for many Native Hawaiians, who lost their homeland to incoming mainland Americans.
Additionally, because Hawaii was just a territory and not yet a state, the US offered Hawaii’s citizens very few protections or rights, and the people of Hawaii had little control over governing their own lives or what was happening in their communities.
At the time, the US government saw the islands as a place they could use for their own benefit, without thinking about the people who lived there. The government set up a military base on Oahu called Pearl Harbor and, through taxes, made money off the islands’ businesses—especially the booming business of growing sugar.
Like many people of Japanese descent in Hawaii, Patsy grew up on a sugar plantation. For most plantation workers—mostly Native Hawaiians at first, and later, in Patsy’s time, Asian immigrants—this was a difficult life of endless, grueling work in the fields.
But Patsy’s childhood was different. She was lucky. Many of the other kids her age had parents who’d just arrived in Hawaii from Japan, but Patsy’s parents had grown up in Hawaii. Because of this, Patsy’s dad spoke English natively, so he was hired as a civil engineer for the plantation, instead of a field worker. This led to more money and less back-breaking labor for his family.
Patsy grew up in a comfortable cottage surrounded by palm trees, sugarcane, and dirt roads. Some days, she would play with the pigs, chickens, rabbits, and turkeys. Other days, she would spend time at the nearby beach, searching for seashells.
On the very best days, she would play with her brother, Eugene. Just a year older, he was Patsy’s best friend, and together they would run, explore, and venture into the nearby mountains to pick mushrooms or bamboo.
Although Patsy grew up in a time when girls were often expected to stay home while boys played outside, her family always treated her and her brother as equals. Eugene included her in football and baseball games, and her parents encouraged her to follow her dreams.
And Patsy was certainly a dreamer.
Copyright © 2022 by Tae Keller 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.