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Make Trouble

Standing Up, Speaking Out and Finding the Courage to Lead

By Cecile Richards (with Lauren Peterson)
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Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out and Finding the Courage to Lead by Cecile Richards (with Lauren Peterson)

Make Trouble (2018) is the inspiring memoir of maverick and activist Cecile Richards – a woman who’s spent her life standing up for what she believes in. Never one to shy away from a fight, Richard’s mantra is simple: if you want to make change, you have to make trouble. An instant bestseller praised by Hillary Clinton and Vogue, this fascinating story follows Cecile’s path from her precocious school days during the Vietnam War to her battles with the religious right as president of Planned Parenthood.

Key idea 1 of 7

Cecile Richards’ background destined her for a life of troublemaking.

What sort of person are you? Someone who keeps their head down and follows the rules no matter how silly, or a would-be rebel bucking the system and playing by their own rules?

Cecile Richards is the very definition of the latter. That’s hardly surprising given her background: born into a radical family in a conservative state, she was destined to become an outspoken maverick.

Her father, David, was a civil rights attorney who spent his career fighting for justice, while her mother, Ann, was the second female governor of Texas.

Her mother wasn’t always a feminist icon. In fact, when she first married she embraced the role of a dutiful housewife. But it didn’t take long before she revolted against society’s expectations.

Things came to a head one summer’s day: David had planned a canoeing trip with friends and asked Ann to make them a picnic for the outing.

She got to work but had a surprise up her sleeve.

When David later opened up the neatly wrapped package, he found a carefully chosen array of the most disgusting foods imaginable, including canned weight-loss drinks and stewed prunes.

Needless to say, Cecile’s father didn’t leave Ann at home with their four kids while he was out having fun again!

Refusing to accept rules she doesn’t agree with is something Richards has in common with her mother, and it showed through at an early age.

As a sixth-grader in Dallas, Texas, Richards got into trouble after refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and the Lord’s Prayer – a common practice in many American schools.

Her reasoning? The family wasn’t religious for one, but she also knew it was unconstitutional to blend religion and education.

Her teacher, Mrs. Powers, wasn’t impressed: “Little lady,” she said, “you’re just trying to make trouble.”

Richards was a straight-A pupil. It was the first time she found herself on the wrong side of her teachers, and it proved to be an important moment. She realized she’d have to choose between keeping her head down and questioning authority.

She chose the latter and was quickly branded a troublemaker. It was shocking at first, but she soon learned to wear it as a badge of honor. Richards never looked back, and she’s been pissing people off ever since!

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