2016 Regions Riding Forward® Winning Essay by Olivia W.

Maria Stewart was a famous activist against racism, sexism, and is known to be the first American born woman to lecture in public to both men and women. Maria is an inspiration to me in many ways, but especially in her courage to publicly speak on religion, equality, race, and sexism. She used the bible as support for her right to speak, and spoke on both religion and equality. I become so frustrated hearing the traditional roles of women and men, and the obligation woman hold because we have the ability to birth new life. Catholicism focuses on how woman must have children in order to have any value in the world. 

For a young woman who knows her own value, and doesn’t wish to pursue children, I often speak out against this in my religion classes, with discussions in my family, and with people of the general public. I like to use Maria Stewart as inspiration, and try to pursue people in the Catholic church to view women as more than just mothers. Maria integrated religion and equality, and because of her efforts, I model her in educating others on the power female’s posses. 

The biggest inspiration to me was Maria’s fight for education. When she was fifteen she became a servant to support herself, and to pay to further her education. I can relate in the sense that my parents couldn’t afford my schooling, therefore I had to find ways to pay off my tuition if I wanted to further my education at a private Catholic high school. Because of this, I appreciate education more and am a driven young woman who understands the value of knowledge more so than others. Maria has also provided me the strength to stick up for my morals, and become an activist for “Black Lives Matter”. I explain to others how corrupt the system is, and how unjust society is in general. The system has failed people many times because of its unjust law and the influence money has on curving the truth. A change is needed in order to balance the scale of justice. Stewart explained in one of her lectures how the lives of black slaves, and how the lives of free blacks do not differentiate much because of the inequality that is practiced; This is still true today. 

Stewart has inspired me to try and explain to my family, and those around me that it doesn’t matter your gender or race, everyone deserves equal pay, equal opportunities, and equal justice. Maria has proved to me that my hard work to afford education will pay off, and to never give up the fight for justice. She is inspiration to all young women, and proof that your voice can be heard no matter how hard others try to ignore it. Because of her efforts, I will never give up my fight for equality, I will keep educating others on justice for all races, and I will always fight for the innocent.


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