Nevertheless

Choir: SATB a cappella | SATB solos

Duration: 5-6 minutes

Language: English

Photo Credit: Shruthi Rajasekar

During the 2017 U.S. Senate hearings of the nomination of Republican Senator Jeff Sessions to the position of U.S. Attorney General by President Trump, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts provided testimony assessing his fitness for the position by quoting an earlier letter to the Senate from civil rights leader Coretta Scott King. But her speech was interrupted by Republican senators who deemed that she had violated a Senate rule in which Senators cannot impugn their colleagues. Tensions between the political parties were already high at this Senate session, which occurred a few weeks after the inauguration of President Trump, and other Democratic senators vehemently opposed this decision, but the ruling remained. For the rest of the hearing, Senator Warren was not permitted to speak.

 

In his now-infamous words about this prohibition, Republican Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell noted that Senator Warren had been given a warning but had “nevertheless persisted" in speaking. Perhaps to his chagrin, these words were subversively transformed into a feminist slogan. "Nevertheless, she persisted" has become a broader statement about womxn continuing despite adversity.

 

To understand the roots of this movement, I studied the transcript record of the original incident. In returning to this moment, I was struck by how the various accounts of what occurred were viewed by everyone involved as definitive truths. "Here is what transpired," Senator McConnell intoned, as if his words were indisputable. But what happened on February 7, 2017? Was it the silencing of womxn? Was it a rule needlessly or even recklessly broken? Was it chaos? Was it order? Did it mean nothing? Did it mean... everything? These conflicting truths are all too familiar to us. Yet in spite of our present vitriolic stasis, in which many clamour to be heard but not much is said, I hold this fragile hope: that she, nevertheless, continues.

Commissioned by the Seraphim Singers, USA, 2020

© 2020 by Shruthi Rajasekar