The Humanist Resource Connection is dedicated to organizing resources that foster the understanding, discussion, advocacy and application of the principles of secular Humanism.
Transcript of Jessica Ahlquist's speech at Reason Rally 2012
The following is the text of Jessica Ahlquist's speech at the Reason Rally, held Saturday, March 24, 2012 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The full video of the speech can be found here.
I have a confession to make. I am Evil Little Thing. That seems to be my identity these days. So, why am I here? I don't necessarily think I belong here. I don't think I'm as experienced as the other speakers here. I'm the youngest speaker here. I'm undoubtedly the smallest speaker here.
This movement, when I think of this movement, the first thing that comes to mind are the students in it. Can all the students raise their hands? Yeah, I would say that's most of you. And I think what the students in this movement are doing is amazing. And I think it's what brings people together in the biggest way. I witnessed firsthand people all over the world come together to support me and what I was doing. And that's something that I can't begin to express in words how good it feels. I began all of this when I was a Freshman in high school and it inevitably ended up becoming a lawsuit with the ACLU against my city. I won that lawsuit in January, which was of course a positive thing but, you know, some people don't necessarily like to see it that way.
Since then there's been ... everything. You can imagine the things that I've heard in school. I'll walk down the hallway and people will say, "Ew, it's the atheist." There have been people on the Internet, obviously. There was a state representative, Peter Palumbo, who did call me an "evil little thing". But I should give him some credit in a way because he gave me a good title there.
So what I said before about this movement, I think the students are really an important part of that. And today I want to say that I'm here not because I'm an accomplished biologist or a famous writer or anything along those lines, but I'm here because I'm a student. And I'm here to tell you that what I did can be done by anybody.
I've made so many friends and this whole community has changed my life in more ways than I'll ever even realize. I could just talk all day about how thankful I am and it wouldn't be enough. This community, for a person who felt completely alone, completely rejected by people in her school, in her community, even old friends, this community changed everything. I'm looking and I can't even see an end to the number of people standing here.
I know that forever and ever, we'll always remember the very first Reason Rally, the biggest secular event in world history and I'm so glad to be here and thank all of you. I love you and you're all "evil things" to me.
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