My grandmother - like pretty much every other woman in my family - was one to speak her mind. I imagine it was because speaking at all was very difficult for her. Born without a palate, it was a miracle she survived, let alone learned to speak - which she did through sheer persistence.
I can’t say for sure that my grandmother was a suffragist. I do know that she was a business woman, owning her own needlework shop in her home town of Gridley, California, in the early 1900’s. I know that she was the executor for her brother-in-law’s estate - which was an unusual role for a woman in the first half of the 20th century. I know that during the great depression she organized a WPA project to help poor women support themselves by making quilts.
But I also know that when the 19th amendment passed, my grandmother, then a farmer’s wife, worked to register women voters in rural Minnesota. Herself a descendant of revolutionary patriots, she was frustrated by her German and Scandinavian immigrant neighbors who told her “Oh I couldn’t vote - my husband wouldn’t let me.” My grandmother couldn’t understand passing up the opportunity to make oneself heard.
To me, my grandmother personifies persistence.
“Nevertheless, she persisted” has become a rallying cry for women this year. It means that we will continue - to vote, to speak up, and eventually be heard.