Last night, the Senate invoked Rule 19, effectively barring Sen. Elizabeth Warren from speaking on the floor.
Warren was silenced after reading parts of a letter Coretta Scott King wrote to Sen. Strom Thurmond in 1986 in which she opposed the nomination of Jeff Sessions for a federal judgeship.
“They can shut me up, but they can’t change the truth,” Warren told CNN’s Don Lemon of her colleagues’ decision to revoke her speaking privileges.
In response to invoking the rule and removing Warren from the Senate floor, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell explained: “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” With that declaration, Warren was instantly added to the long long of women and girls throughout history who’ve persisted, even as those who opposed them try to shut them down. As Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich wrote in 1976: “Well behaved women seldom make history.”
McConnell didn’t realize it at the time, but he had just coined a feminist rallying cry. What he presented as a rebuke of Warren’s behavior quickly picked up steam on social media, where people used it to highlight powerful women from history who refused to be silenced.
Here are some of the strong, badass women who nevertheless persisted, against all odds:
1. Dolores Huerta, founder of the nation’s largest farmworkers union.
2. Ruby Bridges, one of the first black children integrated into an all-white school.
3. Edie Windsor, whose lawsuit against the federal government paved the way for marriage equality.
4. Harriet Tubman, a former slave and spy who led hundreds of slaves to freedom.
5. Bree Newsome, who climbed a pole at the South Carolina capitol and removed the Confederate flag.
6. Ida B. Wells, iconic writer, activist, and suffragette.
7. Hillary Clinton, former senator and secretary of state, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election.
8. Rosa Parks, a seamstress trained in civil resistance who helped launch the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
9. Vera Rubin, the astrophysicist who confirmed the existence of dark matter.
10, 11, and 12. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor, who hold it down for women in the judicial branch.
13. Angela Davis, an activist, educator, writer, and fierce advocate for prison reform and gender equality.
14. Nellie Bly, the pen name of Elizabeth Cochrane, a pioneering journalist.
15. Ieshia Evans, who stood strong at a demonstration in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
16. Anita Hill, who stepped forward with accusations of sexual harassment against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.
17. Grace Lee Boggs, a Chinese-American social activist and revolutionary from Detroit.
18. Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to enter the Boston Marathon.
19. Dorothy Height, esteemed educator and advocate for civil rights and women’s rights.
20. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States.
21. Alice Allison Dunnigan, the first black female journalist to earn White House credentials.
22. Shirley Chisholm, unbought and unbossed, the first black woman elected to Congress and the first black woman of a major party to run for president of United States.
23. Gloria Richardson, civil rights activist and leader of the Cambridge Movement in Cambridge, Maryland.
24. Rachel Carson, ecologist and nature writer who stood up to chemical companies and private science.
25. Fannie Lou Hamer, a civil rights activist who helped organize the 1964 Freedom Summer voter-registration drive.
Sen. Warren joins a long line of women throughout history who’ve stood up and remain unbowed in the face of adversity.
She’s not the first, and she won’t be the last. Who among us will stand up and be next?
Who knows? It might even be you.