Each week, for the past three years I have written a letter, in 2013 to medieval mystic, Hildegard of Bingen, 2014 to Biddy Early, wise woman of County Clare and in 2015 Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz 17th century Mexican scholar and Hieronymite nun. I have loved journeying with these women and sharing our common pilgrimage across time and space. In 2016 I am embarking on responding to speeches of women and men throughout the ages.
I plan to choose an historical speech and respond to that speech in some way. This may take the form of re-writing the speech for today or perhaps doing a speech-in-reply. My research is taking me from apologies of Socrates and Kevin Rudd, from Eleanor Roosevelt’s love of libraries to Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, from Keating in Redfern to Pearson at Whitlam’s funeral, from Stella Young on not being inspirational to Gandhi on making salt. Maybe you dear reader have a favourite speech? The Sermon on the Mount? Mandela’s inauguration? Feel free to suggest one to me (I have a list of 35, so there is room for more).
Liberation is be central to the human spirit and embedded in the words of all the speeches I have read to date. The sense we are all connected and responsible for each others liberation is best expressed by Lilla Watson, a great Australian whose leadership inspires and challenges. This connectivity is a dance where I will be take the lead from the speech maker and in accepting the invitation, keep the dance moving, taking new steps and next steps.
If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time.
But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.
Lilla Watson, 1985 Decade for Women Conference, Nairobi