Two young Raleigh sisters have become symbols of the women’s movement with their letters saying they were taking Wednesday off from school to participate in “A Day Without a Woman.”
The letters that Lottie and Tori Pare wrote about taking Wednesday off from Joyner Elementary School in Raleigh have gone viral, leading to national media interviews and thousands of retweets and likes on social media. The sisters, who spent part of Wednesday writing letters to elected officials, say adults should listen to their concerns about treating all people fairly.
“We’re the next president, we’re the next congressmen, we’re the next grownups, we’re the next big people,” said Lottie, 10, a fifth-grade student. “We should show people what we know and, if we know what we’re talking about, then our future will be better than ever before.”
The organizers of the Women’s March urged women to mark International Women’s Day by staying home from work and school and not shopping unless it was at a small business owned by women. Organizers of the strike also asked women to wear red.
Some school districts across the nation, including Chapel Hill-Carrboro, closed school Wednesday. Chapel Hill-Carrboro school leaders announced the closing last week after getting reports that 20 percent of staff planned to not work Wednesday.
There were 300 Durham teachers out on Wednesday compared to 243 on Monday, according to Chip Sudderth, a district spokesman.
Wake County opted to remain open Wednesday, with 9 percent of the teachers absent, according to Lisa Luten, a district spokeswoman. But she said the total was consistent with Tuesday’s total.
Wake student attendance totals aren’t in yet for Wednesday, but Luten said schools didn’t notice a trend of a larger number of absences than normal for flu season.
Even though Wake remained open, Lottie decided she would go on strike. She wrote a letter Monday to the school’s principal explaining she’d be out on Wednesday so that she could “make my voice heard.” Lottie also said she would talk with her teachers and get her school work ahead of time.
Tori, who turns 8 on Thursday, joined Lottie and wrote her own letter.
“I wanted to stay home from school so I could stand up for people who aren’t treated equally and fairly,” said Tori, a second-grade student. “I believe everyone should be treated equally.”
A third daughter, Mimi, 12, a sixth-grade student at Ligon Middle School in Raleigh, went to school but wore red like her mother and younger sisters.
Instead of having them attend class, Laura Moreschi took her two youngest daughters to lunch at Carroll’s Kitchen in Raleigh, which employs women trying to escape homelessness. The girls also read books about women in history.
The young activists spent the afternoon writing letters to Gov. Roy Cooper and Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis on issues such as repealing HB2, opposing President Donald Trump’s immigration travel ban and treating all people equally.
“I knew I wanted to make my voice heard so that was my motivation,” Lottie said.
Moreschi said Joyner has been supportive of her children’s decision.
What made their protest unique is all the attention it’s drawn since Moreschi posted her children’s letters on Twitter.
Tori’s letter was posted on Instagram by the organizers of the Women’s March, leading to more than 47,000 likes as of Wednesday afternoon.
The attention also led to interviews Wednesday with “NowThis Her” and the “MichaeLA” television show on HLN.
“This has been a very big lesson for us on social media,” Moreschi said.
While the girls’ decision to stay home from school has drawn praise from some online, it’s also drawn criticism.
“@LMoreschi @WCPSS shouldn’t we be empowering our young girls with the power of Education?” tweeted Deanna O’Connell, a business owner from Chicago. “I just can’t see how this makes a point to anyone.”