British artists seeking to balance gender scales with statue project

British artists seeking to balance gender scales with statue project

HISTORY PRESERVATION: A bust of Her Late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II

In nearly every country, women only make up two to four per cent of public statues.

Two British artists are on a mission to address gender inequality after a study revealed there is two times the number of goat statues than statues of women in the UK.

The issue of gender equality in public statues is one that has slowly been coming to light in the last couple of years. Globally, this is a significant problem. In nearly every country, women only make up two to four per cent of public statues.

Gillie and Marc Schattner are working to solve this issue with their new project Statues For Legends. They aim to line the streets with inspiring stories of local legends worldwide.

Marc said: "We have already been so lucky to have created sculptures of some truly incredible women around the world, from Jane Goodall to Oprah. We can’t wait to do more."

It’s not just in the UK where animals have outdone women in terms of representation. In Australia, there are more statues of horses.

A spokesperson said: "This isn’t because men, goats, and horses have had a more significant impact on local communities than women. It’s a simple case of women being overlooked."

The issue is more prominent when it comes to celebrating sporting heroes. The US has more than 300 baseball statues, yet only two are of female players. There are 240 statues of sportspeople in the UK, but only three are of female athletes. In Australia, there are more statues of racehorses than of female athletes.

While representation may seem an insignificant issue, public sculptures are powerful vessels of change. Currently, the successes of men are normalised. By bringing the stories of impactful women to the streets, their successes are normalised too.

Gillie said: "It’s so important that boys and girls can look up into the faces of a diverse range of people, not just white men. They need to see people who look like them, as well as others who look completely different. Only then can we have a more tolerant and supportive society."

While Statues For Legends is looking to balance the gender gap of public statues, they are not solely focused on this goal. The aim is to bring to life the stories of local communities, shining spotlights on mythical tales, indigenous heroes, and courageous humans, male and female.

Gillie said: "As public artists, we believe in the power of art and its ability to open people's hearts and minds. Whether it’s there to teach us something, inspire us, or just make us smile, public art has the ability to affect real change, which we have seen happen time and time again."

Gillie and Marc are currently looking for nominations for the Statues For Legends project. The public can put forward the name of a person, animal, or even a legend to be immortalised in bronze and erected in their community.

They are also offering to co-fund the expensive statues, helping smaller communities see their local legends immortalised in a way they may have never been able to afford. Nominate your legend and apply for a grant on their website at


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Nova makes history with NT U18 hockey girls and looks forward to upcoming statue unveiling

Nova makes history with NT U18 hockey girls and looks forward to upcoming statue unveiling

Nova and her daughter, Destiny. Photo supplied.

Nova Peris sat down with NIT to talk about her first coaching experience, making history at the U18s hockey nationals, and a special event coming up at the end of month.
You’ve just been to the Northern Territory to coach the under 18s hockey, can you tell us a bit about that?

I was the assistant coach to the Northern Territory under 18s team that participated in the National Under 18s Hockey Championships. We travelled to Launceston in Tasmania for 12 days last month, which was amazing and it was so good for me to be back in the sport of hockey. There were two pools, and there were 10 teams overall.

We finished second in our pool … then we crossed over to play against Queensland who were the leaders in Pool A. Unfortunately, we lost against a very, very strong, Queensland, but we weren’t without our chances, and then we ended up playing Western Australia, who was second in Pool A. We drew one-all with them but then it went into the penalty shootout where we won three-one. It was a historical day for Northern Territory hockey because never in hockey history have any women’s team finished higher than fifth at a national championship. We finished third out of the 10 teams that went down to the national championship, so it was absolutely phenomenal to be part of history in the making and also to be the assistant coach.

The NT U18s team with their rose gold medals. Photo supplied.

And your daughter, Destiny, was on the NT team as well?

Yeah, so that was one of the main reasons why I also put my hand up to be coach. What had happened was when they announced the NT team Destiny rang me and said, ‘Mum we can’t go away because we don’t have a manager or an assistant coach’. I said, ‘You ring them back up and you tell them that I’ll put my hand up for the assistant coach position’. And so that was it. I spent almost two and a half months coaching the girls up here in the Northern Territory and we got to the national championships two days before nationals had started. We had nine Northern Territory girls and Destiny, my daughter, and we had eight Queensland imports. And one of the Queensland imports that we had was also a young Aboriginal girl — extremely talented. We had two Aboriginal girls play under my coaching and it was awesome.

Because all of our girls were so spread out through Australia, we only got to train once together as a team, which was a practice match against South Australia, in the lead up to the nationals. For us to be able to merge together so well and gel as a team … credit to the girls. I always felt that if I’m given an opportunity where I’ve got kids who are willing to listen, they’re willing to learn, and if they’ve got talent, I’ll be able to pass on the things that I’ve learnt over the years. It was just absolutely such a beautiful feeling as a coach to see the girls perform so well. From the instructions that I’d given them, they were able to pull it off and you know the rest is history now. It was amazing. You know, I think that’s half the battle, there’s so much talent out there but you have to be willing to learn and listen. That’s part of life’s journey, that’s how you grow as a person, that’s how you can grow as an athlete or a team person, you’ve got to be willing to accept all the advice.

How was it being able to coach and pass on your knowledge?

I won an Olympic gold medal, a World Cup gold medal and two champions trophies gold medals, but I’ve never been able to share my lived experiences and share my journey ever before because I went straight from hockey into athletics. For me to be part of history and to be part of that winning team where we won a rose gold — that’s the new definition of a bronze medal now — rose gold. My rose gold medal is sitting on my mantlepiece here at home and I love it. It means a lot to me because I was able to guide these young girls to a place that they will never ever forget.
Why is it important for young people, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, to be engaged in sport and especially team sports?

Sports can teach us so much in life. To be a sportsperson, number one, you’ve got to be dedicated, you’ve got to be committed and you’ve got to be willing to make sacrifices if you want to reach the top of your game in whatever it may be. And secondly, I feel that in team sport you can make friends for life because you go through a process together. You go through your highs, you go through your lows, you’ve got to be able to bounce back and encourage each other. Playing sports is so healthy and you can take a lot of those things from sports and apply it to everyday life. That’s what I was able to do with my hockey, all the life lessons I learned, I built that into my successful athletics career and then into my political area and now into my post political area, and starting up my own foundation. The principles of being committed and setting yourself goals and being dedicated and having a ‘never say die’ attitude, these are important things. That’s the thing with sports, it enables you to set good principles in life. To be able to play the national championships, it’s a privilege to be able to represent your state and you not only represent the state, you represent your family, your friends and your community.

What are your plans for the coming weeks, you have your foundation launch coming up?

Off the back of winning a bronze medal or rose gold at the national championships, that was another first for the Northern Territory, it was another first for me as well, being an assistant coach of that team. On the 27th of May I’m really looking forward to a special event that’s going to happen at Federation Square in Melbourne and that’s going to be the unveiling of my 2.2 metre bronze statue. It was done by Gillie and Marc, their project is called ‘Statues for Equality’ and it’s about getting more female statues out there. It’s about uplifting more women in society, which is important.

And also it’s a statue of a Black woman … you know there’s a saying ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’. I hope that my statue unveiling can not only inspire all Australians but most significantly inspire Aboriginal people that the world is their oyster and my journey can be a beacon of light to say, if I’m talented enough and I’m willing to make all the sacrifices, be committed, have the dedication, I can perhaps one day be an Olympian, or reach the highest in whatever it is that I choose to set my sights on.

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Netball great Sharelle McMahon to be immortalised with statue in Melbourne

Netball great Sharelle McMahon to be immortalised with statue in Melbourne

Australian netball great Sharelle McMahon has hailed her immortalisation in bronze in the heart of Melbourne’s sporting precinct as important recognition for female athletes.

McMahon will be the fifth female athlete to have a statue erected in Victoria, joining Olympians Betty Cuthbert, Shirley Strickland and Nova Peris, and AFLW player Tayla Harris.

At the same time, there are 29 existing statues of male athletes in the state, as well as three of racehorses.

McMahon’s statue is to be erected under the Victorian government’s Celebrating Female Sporting Icons initiative and the Statues for Equality project – a global movement working to balance gender and racial representation in public statues.

“It’s a hugely important thing for female athletes to be recognised in many different ways and this is a great way to do it,” McMahon said. “I was really shocked when I heard the numbers and what that lack of balance was between the genders.

“Having a statue that’s a really permanent visualisation of [recognition for female athletes] is something that many people can look up to and appreciate and love for many years to come hopefully.”

McMahon’s decorated career spanned 15 years, including two Commonwealth Games gold medals and two World Cup championships. A 12-time captain of Australia, she played more than 200 national league games for six premierships with the Melbourne Vixens and predecessor club Melbourne Phoenix.

McMahon was also the first athlete from a team sport to carry the Australian flag at a Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, at Delhi 2010. The Sport Australia Hall of Fame member now works as Cricket Victoria’s head of female cricket.

McMahon’s statue will be erected outside John Cain Arena, facing Olympic Boulevard. “This stadium for me holds so many amazing memories,” she said. “For fans to be walking past a statue of me is still a bit unbelievable.

“I think what I’d like them to say is that I was a really proud Victorian and I represented my club with immense passion, and my country with immense passion, and that I was fun to watch play.

“I do believe it’s about more than just me as an individual and a representation of me. It’s a representation of our sport and a celebration of our sport and the amazing people that have had such a great influence in many different ways.”

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Mataranka's 'We of the Never Never' statues unveiled on May 16

Mataranka's 'We of the Never Never' statues unveiled on May 16

The new 'We of the Never Never' statues have been unveiled in Stan Martin Park as part of the Never Never Festival in Mataranka on Sunday, May 16.

The six statues depict the various characters of Jeanie Gunn's book 'We of the Never Never' that was made into a movie in the 1980s.

The previous statues, which were regularly visited by tourists, had many cracks and parts of the statues were falling away or faded from the harsh Northern Territory conditions.

After an extensive consultation process with the Mataranka Local Authority, it was requested these statues be replaced to reflect the significance of the town's history and the quality of life in Mataranka.

The project was funded by the Mataranka Local Authority and Roper Gulf Regional Council, who awarded the contract to construct the new statues to Gillie and Marc from Sydney NSW.

The Never Never Festival took place from Friday, May 14 to Sunday, May 16 in the town of Mataranka and is an event that embraces the diversity of the Never Never and celebrates Jeanie Gunn's famous 1908 novel, which was responsible for putting Mataranka on the international stage.

Mayor Judy MacFarlane officially unveiled the new bronze statues in Stan Martin Park alongside special guests, Florence Peters and Sabina Willy.

Florence Peters is the daughter of Dolly Bonson who, as Bett Bett, featured in the novel 'We of the Never Never' and who's character is one of the statues in Stan Martin Park.

The second special guest was Sabina Willy, the actor who played the character of Bett Bett in the 'We of the Never Never' movie, released in 1982.

"The Mataranka Community and Council staff were very excited about the completion of this long standing project," Mayor MacFarlane said.

"This is a special event made even more special by having two significant people involved in the 'We of the Never Never' story such as Florence and Sabina attend."

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Change... one statue at a time.

Change... one statue at a time.

Did you know that 90 percent of public statues are of men? That statement alone makes this week’s sculpture installation in the heart of the Elmwood village even more interesting. 

On Tuesday, City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, the Buffalo Arts Commission and Nila Griffis, executive director of the Ashford Hollow Foundation welcomed a beautiful 10 foot tall statue of Janet Mock – who is a writer, producer, television host and transgender rights activist. Mock’s statue, created by internationally known artists Gillie and Marc Schattner, will reside at the corner of Bidwell Parkway and Elmwood for the next month or so. 

This is part of a global movement to balance gender and racial representation in public art and create tangible change one statue at a time. The Janet Mock statue is one of four tall bronze statues of inspirational women donated to Griffis Sculpture Park by the Schattners. The park received statues of Olympic athlete Gabby Douglas, astronaut, Tracy Dyson and author, Cheryl Strayed. The unifying mission of the artwork is to fill the world with inspiring public art that spreads messages of love, equality, conservation and hope.

The Douglas, Dyson and Strayed sculptures will be installed at Griffis Sculpture Park in mid-June. After residing at Bidwell Park, the Mock sculpture will then be permanently installed at the Essex Arts Center in Buffalo. Acquiring these sculptures are a nice win for Griffis Sculpture Park and Western New York. Gillie and Marc have been called “the most successful and prolific creators of public art in New York’s History” by the New York Times. Creating some of the world’s most innovative public sculptures, Gillie and Marc have re-defined what public art should be, spreading messages of love, equality, and conservation around the world. Their highly coveted sculptures and paintings can be seen in art galleries and public sites in over 250 cities. 

Image: Mayor Byron Brown, Buffalo Arts Commission Chair Catherine Gillespie and Griffis Sculpture Park Executive Director Nila Griffis review the Janet Mock sculpture.  

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Diamonds legend Sharelle McMahon to be immortalised in bronze

Diamonds legend Sharelle McMahon to be immortalised in bronze

Australian netball great Sharelle McMahon will be immortalised in bronze as part of the Victorian government’s Celebrating Female Sporting Icons initiative.

The statue of the former Diamonds captain will stand in front of Victoria’s home of netball, John Cain Arena.

McMahon, a two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist and two-time World Cup champion who represented Australia 118 times, will become the fifth woman to receive the honour.

She joins Olympians Betty Cuthbert, Shirley Strickland and Nova Peris, and AFLW star Tayla Harris.

“It’s a wonderful individual accolade, but it’s a real recognition of the sport of netball and the contribution that the sport of netball has made to Victoria,” said McMahon, who played for the Melbourne Phoenix and the Melbourne Vixens.

The honour is also part of the Statues for Equality project, a global movement aimed at balancing gender and racial representation in public statues.

Netball Victoria CEO, Rosie King said McMahon’s achievements being celebrated in bronze “highlighted the importance” of the honour to “aspiring netballers and girls and women across the country”.

“Whilst we can’t rewrite history, we can ensure that the story of Australia’s sporting landscape more accurately reflects the impact that women have,” King said.

“Sharelle McMahon is an icon of our great game of netball.

“However, her statue isn’t just about netball, it’s about giving the community the chance to reflect on the legacy that women have created and will continue to create for generations to come.

“It’s an important story to tell and Sharelle McMahon is the right person to tell it.” 

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Nova Peris statue unveiled in Naarm

Nova Peris statue unveiled in Naarm

A new bronze statue was unveiled in Naarm/Melbourne’s Federation Square on Thursday honouring Nova Peris, the first Aboriginal Australian to win a gold medal in the Olympics.

Peris was just 25-years-old when she competed as a member of the Australian Olympic Hockey team at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. After the team won the gold, Peris switched to athletics and later won the 200m and 4x100m gold medals at the 1998 Commonwealth Games. When the Olympics came to Sydney in 2000, Peris reached the semi-finals of the 400m and was part of Australia’s 4x400m relay team, which placed fifth overall. 

The statue depicts Peris mid-run, sporting her 2000 Olympics track uniform. It’s set on a base covered in totems important to Peris: a black-headed python representing her Kimberley roots, and three bush hibiscuses to honour her relatives from the Stolen Generations.

“It’s not just a statue. It represents Black excellency. It represents any kid out there who dares to dream big,” Peris said at the unveiling.

“You’ve got to have your dreams, you’ve got to have your aspirations in life and anything can happen if you believe in yourself and you’re willing to put in the hard yard.”

“So many people told me that I can’t do it. I’m living proof that you can do it.”

This year, 16 Indigenous Australian athletes will head to Tokyo for the Olympics — the most in Australian Olympics team history. Though Australians have competed in the Olympics since 1896, Indigenous athletes were not selected for the Olympics until 1964.

“It’s been phenomenal just to think that Ash Barty won on the weekend, Patty Mills was selected as our flag bearer for the weekend, the Olympic Games start next week, and I’ve got a younger cousin going to the Olympics,” Peris said.

“We’re encouraging people to take photos and hashtag and tag me in it.”

The statue was designed by Australian sculptors Gillie and Marc, as part of their Statues for Equality movement; an initiative to diversify public art in order to further gender and racial equality.

“Nova Peris is a proud Indigenous woman who has broken through many glass ceilings in both politics and sports,” Gillie said in a prerecorded video shown at the unveiling.

“I am proud to be a female artist and to use my talent to support other women.”

After achieving sporting greatness, Peris became Australia’s first Indigenous woman elected to Federal Parliament in 2013. As a Senator representing the Northern Territory for Labor, Peris worked on Reconciliation and advocated for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

Gillie and Marc worked with Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Warung descendant and artist Jandamarra Cadd to create the statue’s unique base. After a stint in Federation Square, the statue will move to Darwin where Peris grew up in a housing commission called the Kurringal Flats.

“This is for all the mob,” said Peris.

“This is for all the Aboriginal children out there who are so super talented. I want them to see Black excellence because there’s not enough of us out there and there’s a saying that you can’t be what you can’t see.

“There’s a lot of statues out there of the colonisers and we can’t relate to those. This we can relate to.”

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New York City Unveils a Permanent Statue of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Her Native Brooklyn

New York City Unveils a Permanent Statue of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Her Native Brooklyn

This month would have marked the 88th birthday of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September from pancreatic cancer. Now, the trailblazing jurist—the second woman appointed to the nation’s highest court—is being honored with a new sculpture in her native Brooklyn.

The work of Gillie and Marc, the statue is the latest in the Australian artist duo’s “Statues for Equality” series, launched near Rockefeller Center on Women’s Equality Day in 2019. The initial project honored Oprah Winfrey, Pink, Nicole Kidman, Jane Goodall, Cate Blanchett, Tererai Trent, Janet Mock, Tracy Dyson, Cheryl Strayed, and Gabby Douglas with life-size bronzes.

The artists hope to draw attention to the fact that New York City suffers from a dearth of public monuments honoring real life women—until recent efforts to improve the situation, there were only five civic sculptures of historic women, compared to 145 of men.

Last summer, Central Park unveiled the Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument, honoring Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth. It was the first new permanent sculpture in the park in 70 years, and its first honoring a historic woman.


Meanwhile, the city’s She Built NYC initiative, launched in 2018, will build monuments to jazz legend Billie Holiday, public health pioneer Helen Rodríguez Trías, civil rights leader Elizabeth Jennings Graham, lighthouse keeper Katherine Walker, and Shirley Chisholmthe nation’s first Black congresswoman.

Those names were chosen after a public poll; when the most-suggested woman, Saint Frances Cabrini, wasn’t among those chosen for a statue, her fellow Italian American, Governor Andrew Cuomo, took it upon himself to arrange for a monument in her honor. The statue, by Jill and Giancarlo Biagi, was unveiled in Battery Park City this past October. (The pandemic has delayed the city’s statues indefinitely.)

Cuomo has also announced plans to erect a Ginsburg monument somewhere in Brooklyn.


Jill Burkee-Biagi and Giancarlo Biagi, Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini (2020), in Battery Park City. Photos courtesy of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Gille and Marc got Ginsburg’s approval for their statue before her death. “The statue… reflects her wish to be depicted in a dignified manner,” they said in a statement. “With the two steps on its large base representing the Supreme Court and the climb she made to get there, the work is designed to provide the public with an opportunity to stand at her side, and gain inspiration from her journey fighting for equal rights.”

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who was on hand for the work’s unveiling at City Point in Downtown Brooklyn, has declared March 15, the late justice’s birthday, Justice Ginsburg Day.

“RBG was clearly a symbol of what’s great about this country and how, when we are inclusive, we can stop the level of exclusiveness that is pervasive throughout this country,” he said, as reported by ABC News.

To visit the statue, you can make a free reservation with City Point. Visits last 20 minutes and can accommodate up to six guests. Face masks are required.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg statue unveiled in Brooklyn honors Women's History Month, 88th birthday

Ruth Bader Ginsburg statue unveiled in Brooklyn honors Women's History Month, 88th birthday

A statue of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was erected in her hometown of Brooklyn Friday morning, just three days before her 88th birthday.

The unveiling also comes in the middle of Women's History Month as another way to honor Ginsburg's legacy and her fight for women's rights

The statue of Ginsburg was installed in downtown Brooklyn outside a multi-use development called City Point.

Ginsburg died Sept. 18, 2020, following her announcement earlier in July that she suffered a recurrence of cancer and that lesions had been found on her liver. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2009 and 2019, as well as lung cancer in 2018 and colon cancer in 1999.

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Zimbabwean Woman Honored with Statue in New York

Zimbabwean Woman Honored with Statue in New York

New York/WASHINGTON - Tererai Trent appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show in 2009 and inspired the world with her story of overcoming enormous odds to pursue her dreams of education. This week, she finds herself immortalized alongside Winfrey with a bronze statue in New York City. She is the only African woman to have received this honor.

The Zimbabwean educator and humanitarian is one of 10 “Statues For Equality” created by sculptors Gillie and Marc Schattner. Trent’s statue depicts her with her arms aloft, surrounded by the flame lily, the country’s national flower.

“It comes without saying that, by projecting these women into larger-than-life-size sculptures, it will help change our society — a change that will elevate the lives of women all around the world. A change that can trigger gender equality in careers, industries and the home,” Gillie Schattner said at the ceremony.

“I come from a very poor place, and I grew up very poor. I had four babies before I was even 18 years of age, and to think that because of the power of believing in a dream and today I am being celebrated,” Trent said. “And to think I have a statue in New York, the most celebrated city in the world? It’s just unbelievable. Even my own grandmother and my mother never dreamt of that.”

Trent grew up in a village and was denied an education because she was a girl, like her mother and grandmother before her. She secretly learned to read by using her brother’s books but was married to an abusive husband when she was 11.

But Trent did not let her dreams die. She moved to the U.S. and pursued a graduate degree, ultimately earning a Ph.D., after 20 years of effort. She taught global health at Drexel University and currently runs the Tererai Trent International Foundation, which focuses on providing education to children in rural Zimbabwe. She is a sought-after public speaker and author.

“When one woman is silenced, there is a part within all of us women that get silenced,” Trent said. “But when women are awakened and recognized in public places, all of us, we get the true joy of knowing that we are all equal with men.”

Anesu Munengwa, the program manager of the Tererai Trent Foundation in Zimbabwe, said Trent isn’t distracted by fame. “She does whatever she does quietly … we have to remind people of the work she is doing and how it is impacting the community she comes from.”

Trent’s story has inspired people around the world. Winfrey announced she would donate $1.5 million to assist Trent in building schools. To date, they have built 12 schools in rural Zimbabwe and helped 38,000 children get an education. Some of them are now going to universities.

Beatrice Nyamweda, Trent’s friend of more than 35 years, traveled from Zimbabwe to attend the unveiling of the statue. She said Trent’s impact is felt back home in communities where there is an opportunity gap.

“There are 10 children who went to her school and started studying at the university currently. She has changed the lives of these children who are bright but lack resources. I am proud of her for that,” Nyamweda said, speaking in her native Shona.

During the unveiling of the statue, Trent said her greatest joy is passing along opportunities she received to others. She said she made a conscious decision to end a cycle of poverty and oppression that had stifled the women in her family for generations.

“My grandmother used to say that when you think about your great grandmother when she was born she was born holding this baton. I'm calling it the baton of poverty, the baton of early marriage,” Trent said. “So as women and as individuals, we have the choice to say do I want to carry on and pass on this ugly baton or do I want to pose in my own life to reflect and say what baton do I want to pass on? I'm deciding to pass on the baton of education.”

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