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Nevertheless, We Persisted: 48 Voices of Defiance, Strength, and Courage

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Soraya Chemaly, Representative Leslie Herod, and Imran Siddiquee

Join multiple outstanding contributors to this powerful collection for a discussion of their own experiences defying obstacles and challenging society’s perceptions and expectations.

Nevertheless We Persisted gathers essays from actors, activists, athletes, politicians, musicians, writers, and teens, including Senator Amy Klobuchar, actress Alia Shawkat, actor Maulik Pancholy, poet Azure Antoinette, teen activist Gavin Grimm, and many, many more, each writing about a time in their youth when they were held back because of their race, gender, or sexual identity—but persisted.

“Aren’t you a terrorist?” “There are no roles for people who look like you.” “That’s a sin.” “No girls allowed.” They’ve heard it all. Actress Alia Shawkat reflects on all the parts she was told she was too “ethnic” to play. Former NFL player Wade Davis recalls his bullying of gay classmates in an attempt to hide his own sexuality. Teen Gavin Grimm shares the story that led to the infamous “bathroom bill,” and how he’s fighting it. Holocaust survivor Fanny Starr tells of her harrowing time in Auschwitz, where she watched her family disappear, one by one.

What made them rise up through the hate? What made them overcome the obstacles of their childhood to achieve extraordinary success? How did they break out of society’s limited view of who they are and find their way to the beautiful and hard-won lives they live today? With a foreword by Minnesota senator and up-and-coming Democratic party leader Amy Klobuchar, these essays share deeply personal stories of resilience, faith, love, and, yes, persistence. 

Soraya Chemaly is a writer and activist whose work focuses on the role of gender in culture, politics, religion, and media. She is the director of the Women’s Media Center Speech Project, which is involved in curbing online abuse, promoting media and tech diversity, and expanding women’s freedom of expression. Her work has appeared in Time, the Guardian, the Nation, and the Atlantic, and on HuffPost and Role Reboot. In 2013, Soraya won the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s Donna Allen Award for Feminist Advocacy. In 2015, she was named one of Elle’s 25 Inspiring Women to Follow on Twitter. Follow Soraya on Twitter at @schemaly.

Leslie Herod represents District Eight (northeast Denver) in the Colorado House of Representatives. She is the first African American LGBT candidate elected to the state legislature. She is a champion for civil and reproductive rights and is committed to building a more just, inclusive, and prosperous Colorado. She currently serves on the House Judiciary and Finance Committees and the joint Committee on Legal Services.

Imran Siddiquee is a writer, a filmmaker, and an activist working to transform how gender and race are represented in the media. He helped start the Representation Project, where he worked on documentary films and led large-scale campaigns to call out sexism in the media. In 2014, he gave a TEDx talk called “How Hollywood Can Tell Better Love Stories,” and his 2015 short film, Love Reset, was produced by MTV. His writing has been published by the Atlantic, BuzzFeed, Salon, and other online publications.

Carey Albertine is a Founder and Creative Director of In This Together Media. Carey has worked as an executive recruiter, managed a multi-million dollar P&L for an educational company, and held many positions in television at Lucky Duck Productions, Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and NBC News. She has written and performed stand-up comedy at clubs all over New York City. Carey is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

Saira Rao is a Founder and Creative Director of In This Together Media. Saira is the author of Chambermaid (Grove Press) and The Madlands (forthcoming). Previously, Saira was a television news producer in Washington D.C., and Miami; a law clerk for the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, and a lawyer at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in New York City. Saira is a graduate of the University of Virginia and New York University School of Law.

“Each tale is a soulful testament to the endurance of the human spirit and reminds readers that they are not alone in their search for self. An unflinchingly honest book that should be required reading for every young person in America.”—Kirkus, Starred review

“[A] gem of a book…There’s a lot to study here and talk about on the way to becoming kinder, more empathetic, and most important, compassionate.”—Booklist

“Readers encountering injustice in their own lives may be compelled to take heart—and even action.”—Publishers Weekly

“A powerful collection of voices.”—SLJ

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