Persistence often leads to rewards. Studying hard for a test can lead to a good grade. Excellent performance on the job can lead to a promotion. Even when it seems like there is nothing left, persisting will almost always guarantee that there will be better times ahead. On top of a building in downtown Sacramento, California, there rests yet another reminder of persistence – a hopeful one. Measuring five feet tall and cast in 400 pounds of bronze, this new symbol comes in the form of a little girl in pigtails, standing proudly with her hands on her hips, looking onto the world with determination in her eyes.
The statue in question belongs to the California Democratic Party (CADEM). Created by artist Julia Fernandez-Pol, Persist came into being through the eyes of CADEM’s Angie Tate: “It’s a symbol that we can all choose our own path if we continue to stand, even when it’s really hard.” Tate is the Chief Finance Officer for the California Democratic Party. Through her own persistence, the $16,000 statue was paid for by two anonymous donors.
The inspiration for the statue came from two different sources. The first was the incident in February, in which Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren was cut off by Senate leader Mitch McConnell while reading Coretta Scott King’s thoughts on Jeff Sessions. “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” was the infamous explanation McConnell gave at the time, and it went on to inspire countless protests, marches, and even an episode of the superhero TV show, Supergirl.
The second source was an equally-famous statue on the other side of the country: Fearless Girl, a 50-inch bronze statue designed by Kristen Visbal, stares down the famous charging bull on Wall Street, symbolizing the necessity for broadening the female presence in the workplace.
Many influential figures were recruited to promote the statue’s cause and message, including Maria Shriver, Nancy McFadden, and even Colusa, the dog of California governor, Edmund “Jerry” G. Brown, Jr. To show that the message being broadcasted can apply to everyone, however, the California Democratic Party is encouraging women to share their stories of persistence on social media, fueling inspiration and the potential for other installations across the country.
While the biggest efforts to show persistence may be caused by recent political events, the party assures that the statue’s importance works beyond just today’s current news; the statue is meant to inspire not only present audiences but future generations to come.
“I was picturing a little girl in a classroom afraid to raise her hand,” says Dana Williamson, an advisor to Governor Jerry Brown, and the mother of the five-year-old girl chosen to model for Persist. “We want this next generation to see powerful images of strong women and girls so that they believe very early on that not only can they speak up, but that they should.”
The plan is for the statue to become a symbol in its own right, and perhaps a well-known piece for children of the future.
“Little girls need something to look up to,” says Robin Swanson, a communications consultant for the Democratic Party. “They can literally look up at the statue of Persist and say, ‘I can persist.’ Frankly, we all need a little reassurance ourselves.”
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