This Dallas, Texas high school valedictorian went viral after her brave commencement speech at graduation. Senior, Paxton Smith originally had plans to deliver a speech about news media at her graduation which was pre-approved by the school.
However, moments prior to delivering her speech at Lake Highlands High School, she took it upon herself to use her three minutes on stage to advocate for what she believed to be a bigger issue: the new abortion law in Texas.
She criticized The heartbeat bill recently passed in Texas, which allows citizens to sue doctors who knowingly perform an abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
“I have dreams and hopes and ambitions. Every girl graduating today does, and we have spent our entire lives working towards our future, and without our input and without our consent our control over that future has been stripped away from us. I am terrified that if my contraceptives fail, I am terrified that if I am raped, then my hopes and aspirations and dreams and efforts for my future will no longer matter”.
Smith has received many praises for her speech from a variety of prominent progressives, including Hillary Clinton, Jennifer Aniston, and Democratic Opponents of the heartbeat bill in Texas.
Though the bravery of this speech was evident, what is even more evident is that there is still work to be done. The fact that young women and girls have the idea that one’s dreams and goals cannot be achieved upon conceiving a child is sad. Better yet, unless they have the option of dispensing their unborn child, success cannot be obtained.
The narrative of what it costs for a woman to obtain success and achieve goals in this lifetime has to evolve, and it begins with mentorship in our communities to change the mindsets of young girls. Sharing and showing the success stories of women who were able to be successful with a career and family to take care of.
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