Video: She Persisted by Steve Lippman

Women including Rosanne Cash, Carly Simon and Bridget Everett read Coretta Scott King's letter on Jeff Sessions in solidarity with Elizabeth Warren.

These days, I’ve been testing myself and focusing my creative energies in a different way than my ongoing film work with music and musicians. Recently, I made a couple of short DIY political videos as an exercise in resistance to the daily assaults against our democracy by this new administration and its collaborators. I’m not sure if the videos have any impact, but for me it feels like therapy and necessity. Part of the personal struggle is finding ways to be most effective for others in these critical times. Nothing feels like business as usual.

This DIY shoot-on-the-iPhone approach is quick, and I’m challenging myself to let go of old habits and expectations in service of just getting it done quickly, and making a statement.

I’m sitting at my desk last week, enraged again. I’m reading the story of how Senator Elizabeth Warren was silenced on the Senate Floor, via an obscure rule, while reading the text of Coretta Scott King’s 1986 letter and statement opposing Jeff Sessions’ nomination to a federal judgeship. Senator Warren was now using it in opposition to Sessions’ nomination as U.S. Attorney General.

It was an outrageous effort by cowardly white men to silence not only essential words by Mrs. King against Sessions and his record of racism and injustice, but also to silence a woman. This was made abundantly clear by the fact that the next day, several male senators admirably stepped up to read the same words, yet were not silenced in any way.

The idea came quick. I sent out an email polling about a dozen women asking if they’d be interested in submitting videos in which they’d read aloud the text of Mrs. King’s cover letter on camera. The response was immediate. Everyone wanted to be heard.

Mrs. King’s letter was concise, and pointed. The plan was to intercut between the women to create a full read. That was the core concept. Senator Warren had already taken to her Facebook page to post her reading of the full statement. The collective voices in this short video come together in solidarity, and represent a companion to the longer text.

I collected 55 videos in three days, all by personal networking through friends, creative colleagues and friends of friends. There were another 30 or so women that responded but schedule prevented them from doing it. No one said “no.” If I’d had a month, it would have turned into thousands of voices. They are out there.

The rules were simple, shoot on the iPhone or similar device, send me the video. Nothing fancy.

Not quite everyone made the final cut, but everyone who submitted is listed below. They all stepped up. They all made this with me.

Sharon Ainsberg
Ann-Elizabeth Barnes
Cheryl Bentyne
Suzanne Bertish
Zoey Birdsong
Carolyn Bisson
Stephanie J. Block
Lisa Boone
Blair Brown
Rosanne Cash
Bridget Everett
Indhira Flowers
Chrystal Genesis
Laurie Green
Manie Kaur Grewal
La Tanya Hall
Heather Hartshorn
Jordyn Holt
Dorna Khazeni
Lauren Kinhan
Judy Kuhn
Lisa Jo LaMere
Miranda LaMere
Jodi Long
Dina Marie
Lela Means
Jane Monheit
Maddie Moore
Allison Moorer
Julia Murney
Darmia Hope Murphy Elliott
Donna Murphy
Charlotte Nagy
Kim Nazarian
Silje Nergaard
Bebe Neuwirth
Laura Nik
Claudine Ohayon
Andi Oliver
Angela Paul
Ellen Petty
Isobel Petty
Catalina Ruiz-Healy
Catherine Russell
Janis Siegel
Carly Simon
Hillary Stokes
Toni Trucks
Olivia Vesecky
Suki Vesecky
Kim Ward
Holly Foster Wells
Mary Wharton
Kathleen Harrahan Wyly
Elizabeth and Amy Ziff

Steve Lippman aka FLIP has directed music short films/videos/documentaries for David Bowie, Laurie Anderson, Dolly Parton, Rosanne Cash, Esperanza Spalding, Jorge Drexler, Joe Henry,  Carly Simon, Bette Midler, and more. His work has screened at film festivals worldwide including Cannes, London, Berlin, Tribeca, and Denver. Imagery from his music films has been featured in major concert tours for David Bowie, Rosanne Cash and Dolly Parton. Flip directed Behind the Lid, a feature-length film version of the acclaimed theatrical experience co-created by avant-garde playwright/performer Lee Nagrin and master puppeteer/performer Basil Twist. The film premiered at BAM. He resides in Brooklyn and works globally.