My Message "To All The Little Girls"

A lot can happen in a year. I would know. Last year, I sat in my dorm room feeling utterly hopeless and defeated. This year, I found myself sitting knee-to-knee with Hillary Rodham Clinton.

 Interviewing Secretary Clinton for "To All The Little Girls," May 2018

Interviewing Secretary Clinton for "To All The Little Girls," May 2018

 Standing in front of the DNC Digital Command Center, July 2018

Standing in front of the DNC Digital Command Center, July 2018

My experience with “Hillary for America” is a true coming of age story. It started at the Democratic National Convention, where I was the youngest person on the Digital Communications team at 19 years old. I had just completed my freshman year at Emerson College and was excited to have this opportunity. The chance to live out history was invigorating. That week was one of the most challenging and exciting weeks of my life.

When I watched Secretary Clinton accept the nomination and become the first female Presidential candidate of a major political party, something in me clicked. My eyes opened wider and my heart thumped faster. I realized that the only thing stopping me from going into politics was myself. After years of being bullied and abandoned by friends, I was made to believe that my voice and personhood didn’t matter. But it was something about that moment, about her, and the enchantment of it all that made me realize that public service was my calling.

 Canvassing in New Hampshire, October 2016

Canvassing in New Hampshire, October 2016

It was as if a horse had been let out of the gate. I canvassed, I called, I wrote social media posts, I produced videos; anything I could do to elect the woman who I so full-heartedly believed in. Amidst the flurry of campaigning, I also would stop to pinch myself. Did I really just stand up on that table and recite Hillary’s stump speech? Did I really just walk eight miles and knock on random people’s doors in the New Hampshire cold? I grew into my own alongside an amazing group of people who challenged and inspired me.

Throughout this journey, I often thought about my future daughter and how amazing it would be to tell her this story one day. I wrote her little memos along the way, a continuation of the series of letters I had already begun to write years before. This private part of my experience was perhaps the most exciting, and later the most devastating.

The story did not end how any of us thought it would. However, I’d argue that it didn’t end. It has only just begun. Maybe this story, though uglier and more painful than the alternative, might make a more powerful one to tell our daughters one day.

 After meeting Secretary Clinton at the "What Happened" launch, September 2017

After meeting Secretary Clinton at the "What Happened" launch, September 2017

It is this thought that inspired me to produce a documentary at twenty-one years old. The idea was born in a moment. I was standing in line at the Union Square Barnes and Noble about to meet Secretary Clinton for the first time at her "What Happened" book launch. The night before, I had gone out with a group of girls I had met through HFA (Hillary for America) Twitter to celebrate my 21st birthday. Despite heavy eyes (and admittedly a slight hangover), I was filled with an energy that reminded me of my days on the trail.

My friend Abby and I were standing behind the first row of ropes when we watched a girl come up the escalator. She was about eleven or twelve. She stopped for a moment to stand on her tippy toes, wobbling back and forth excitedly in the hopes of catching a glimpse of Hillary. When she finally saw her, a look of complete relief came over her face, followed by one of the biggest grins I have ever seen. After watching this moment unfold, we turned to each other with tears in our eyes.

“This is why we do what we do.” I remember saying. Abby nodded. Realizing that this girl was probably confused by our emotions, we introduced ourselves and explained.

“We get a lot of hate on Twitter,” I told her, “for standing up for Hillary and one another. It’s much bigger than her. Meeting young girls like you keeps us going. This is why she should never go away.”

 Filming "To All The Little Girls" in Pasadena, November 2017

Filming "To All The Little Girls" in Pasadena, November 2017

After I met the Secretary, I got an idea. I told my friends that I was going to make a documentary. During the campaign I had done a lot of visual storytelling. That young girl and the other people I talked to reminded me of not just how special the HFA community is, but that the story is far from over.

I was unhappy that the media was acting as if we didn’t exist, or choosing to depict us inaccurately. I could continue to complain or I could do something about it. If HRC had taught me anything over the past two years, it was that I should do the latter.

When this documentary started, it was just me and my camera. I never could have dreamed that just a month later, Hillary Rodham Clinton would be grabbing my hands as she exclaimed how excited she was to see it. Never did I ever think she’d tweet out our Kickstarter link or allow us to cover her book signings and shows. Nor did I think we'd have the resources to travel across the country and interview people from all walks of life, including Wendy Davis and Hillary herself.

I pinch myself a lot these days.

A lot can happen in a year. Last year, I was in Hillary’s corner. This year, she’s in mine. We’re connected by the same shared vision for our country: one that we’re both going to fight for despite defeat.

That vision is why I’m creating this documentary. I believe that storytelling has the power to enact change. I believe that the story of Hillary’s historic run is an important one, one we can all learn from regardless of who we voted for. We have lost touch with the most important aspect of politics: humanity. We have to be reminded of not only what we are fighting for, but why we are fighting for it.

For me, it’s all the little girls who watched Hillary’s rise, defeat, and comeback. It’s my future daughter. It’s my deeply flawed country that I love with all of my heart and soul. It’s the words in the Pledge of Allegiance: “freedom and justice for all.”

“To All The Little Girls: The Untold Stories of the 65 Million” was backed by 336 people who donated a grand total of $16,368. We surpassed our original goal of $5,000 by over $11,000. Those who could not donate spread the word across secret groups, social media pages, and amongst friends. I knew that this film was needed, but I completely underestimated how many people would be willing to help make it happen. Our entire team is comprised of volunteers. This is just a testament to how incredibly special not only the Secretary is, but the people who surround her.

On Sunday, I am premiering "To All The Little Girls" in Brooklyn, New York. On Wednesday, I will release it out into the world on toallthelittlegirlsdoc.com.

 Friendship bracelet official, July 2018

Friendship bracelet official, July 2018

If I could give a piece of advice to all of the little girls out there, it would be to dream the dreams that seem impossible. Like Secretary Clinton said, you are worthy of every chance and opportunity in the world. If there isn’t space for your vision, make it. Frustrated by a problem you see in the world? Solve it. You have the capacity to change the world and there will be women waiting in the wings to support you in your mission to do it.

I was the girl at school that nobody believed would amount to anything. Who sat alone at lunch tables and could barely fit into Abercrombie and Fitch tops. Who was pelted with softballs and walked home in the rain. 

That girl grew up to earn the respect and admiration of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Take the leap. I'll be right behind you and so will an army.

Rebecca Brubaker