This is a four-year-old video, but I only saw it for the first time this weekend. It's Meryl Streep, introducing Hillary Clinton at the 2012 Women in the World conference. The entire intro is great, but I was especially struck by the stories Streep recounted of the women Clinton has helped, just by showing up for them.
[Transcript of key portions available here.]
This is the part of the video that I want to highlight:
But that night in the theater two years ago, the other six brave women came up on the stage. Anabella De Leon of Guatemala pointed to Hillary Clinton, who was sitting right in the front row, and said, "I met her and my life changed." And all weekend long, women from all over the world said the same thing:I am just profoundly moved by that. By the fact that there are women around the world who view Hillary Clinton as their bulletproof vest; by the fact that we don't know these stories, in no small part because Clinton herself doesn't tell them, probably fearing she would be accused of exploiting these women or actually exposing them to harm; by the fact that Clinton risks her life every day, literally wearing a bulletproof vest on many occasions, to keep campaigning against an opponent who has now repeatedly incited violence against her.
"I'm alive because she came to my village, put her arm around me, and had a photograph taken together."
"I'm alive because she went on our local TV and talked about my work, and now they're afraid to kill me."
"I'm alive because she came to my country and she talked to our leaders, because I heard her speak, because I read about her."
I'm here today because of that, because of those stores. I didn't know about this. I never knew any of it. And I think everybody should know. This hidden history Hillary has, the story of her parallel agenda, the shadow diplomacy unheralded, uncelebrated — careful, constant work on behalf of women and girls that she has always conducted alongside everything else a First Lady, a Senator, and now Secretary of State is obliged to do.
And it deserves to be amplified. This willingness to take it, to lead a revolution...
This isn't just symbolism. It's how you change the world. These are the words of Dr. Gao Yaojie of China: "I will never forget our first meeting. She said I reminded her of her mother. And she noticed my small bound feet. I didn't need to explain too much, and she understood completely. I could tell how much she wanted to understand what I, an 80-something year old lady, went through in China – the Cultural Revolution, uncovering the largest tainted blood scandal in China, house arrest, forced family separation. I talked about it like nothing and I joked about it, but she understood me as a person, a mother, a doctor. She knew what I really went through."
When Vera Stremkovskaya, a lawyer and human rights activist from Belarus met Hillary Clinton a few years ago, they took a photograph together. And she said to one of the Secretary's colleagues, "I want that picture." And the colleague said, "I will get you that picture as soon as possible." And Stremkovskaya said, "I need that picture." And the colleague said, "I promise you." And Stremkovskaya said, "You don't understand. That picture will be my bulletproof vest."
She is an extraordinary person. She really is.