'Nevertheless, We Persisted': Leslie Herod, Fanny Starr among Colorado authors in anthology


State Rep. Leslie Herod, Holocaust survivor Fanny Starr and former Lt. Gov. Gail Schoettler are among a number of Coloradans whose essays are included in “Nevertheless, We Persisted,” an anthology for young adults that features diverse voices recounting how they were held back in their youth but persisted.

Other contributors include actress Alia Shawkat, actor Maulik Pancholy, poet Azure Antoinette, teen activist Gavin Grimm and former NFL player Wade Davis. The collection includes a forward by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

“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?” the book’s publishers ask, and the dozens of essays answer in “deeply personal stories of resilience, faith, love, and, yes, persistence.”

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is another Colorado author whose essay is featured in the anthology. He’s the lead plaintiff in a divisive lawsuit currently before the Colorado Supreme Court, Martinez v. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

The lawsuit asks the commission, which regulates fossil fuel extraction in the state, to prioritize public health and the environment over its charge to encourage oil and gas development.

Here’s a brief excerpt from Martinez’ essay in the collection:

My dad is from Mexico City and is from the indigenous Meshika people. Our culture was illegal. Our ceremonies, our language, and our dances were outlawed in Mexico for many, many decades. Then there was a resurgence in the 1970s and ’80s, when all of a sudden those ceremonies started to happen in public spaces. My grandfather reconnected to our ancestry and heritage then, passing them on to my dad, who passed them on to me. So I grew up with the songs and dances, with a connection to my ancestors, and that really shaped who I am. So much of who we are and what we do is balance with nature — what we give to and receive from the world around us. That’s the lens through which I see the world and my role in it, rather than feeling a sense of ownership. We belong to the planet. We have a responsibility to become part of it. Growing up with this knowledge helped me find my voice.

The book’s title refers to a comment made by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Feb. 7, 2017, after Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren refused to stop reading a letter from Coretta Scott King objecting to then-Alamaba Sen. Jeff Sessions’ confirmation as attorney general.

“Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” McConnell said, coining a phrase that was quickly taken up as a rallying cry.

The 320-page book will be published hardcover and e-book format in September by Knopf Books for Young Readers. It’s available for pre-orders here.

According to Publisher’s Weekly, 10 percent of the book’s royalties will be donated to Girls Write Now, a nonprofit organization that mentors high school girls in New York.

The book was put together by In This Together Media, a company that packages books and films to create a more diverse portrayal of children and young adults. Denver Democrat Saira Rao, a candidate in Colorado’s 1st Congressional District, is one of the company’s founders.

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