In the second grade in the early ‘70s, one of my teachers told me, “You’re smart. You’re going to go to college someday.” It was her highest aspiration for me. At that time, it implied going on to becoming a secretary, a nurse, a teacher. All noble professions, but the only opportunities available. She was not implying, however, that someday I could be president. I never thought about being president as a child. It wasn’t possible. I am black. I was a girl. Even as an adult, I never thought I would see a black president or a woman president in my lifetime. But Hillary Rodham Clinton did.
Even when we got to know her as First Lady, we knew she was different. She wasn’t satisfied attending ceremonies, promoting a pet cause, or yes, baking cookies. She wanted to work. To help children. To transform our national health care system. It failed. But the country wasn’t ready, yet. She didn’t quit. Even when she said in the ‘90s, “Human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights.” The world wasn’t ready, yet. But she didn’t quit. And when she lost a hard-fought primary campaign against Senator Barack Obama, she didn’t give up on her dream.
There are many reasons why I voted for Secretary Clinton. And it’s not only because she’s a woman. I agree with her positions on many of the issues. But one thing I love about her is her resilience through adversity. She has helped women and children and effected change her entire adult life, meeting fierce resistance along the way. Most of us could not withstand the obstacles she has faced. I admire her, because she never, ever, ever quits. I like that in a president. She understands politics is a long and messy process. Significant change within the system takes time. Politics is a profession that requires super-human patience. Tonight, her patience will be reward.
The shattering of the ultimate glass ceiling is for every girl who has been told she’s not good enough, for every woman who has been beaten or killed for the right to vote, for every girl who has been told “you can’t do that, you’re a girl,” for every woman who has met sexism in the workplace or in school. Now, every girl in the United States of America from this day forward knows that she can grow up to be president of this great country.
As a woman, this is special day for me. An historic one. I am blessed to have lived through two. As an author, I write about two strong women, Jade Harrington and Senator Whitney Fairchild, who inspire me every day. You may see a little—maybe, a lot—of Hillary Clinton in Senator Fairchild.
I won’t apologize for becoming emotional tonight. Or for doing a HRC shimmy. I’ve earned it. And, as Beyoncé, would say, “I ain’t sorry.”