In 1986, when I was eighteen, my essay on the liberty of the human spirit and imagination was chosen to be included in the Centennial time capsule of the Statue of Liberty. During the official celebration on Liberty Island, I was designated a “Steward of Liberty for the next hundred years.” I stood below the big toe of the Statue and wondered how a person could live up to a title like that. I pictured myself dressed in a catering tuxedo, handing out pieces of liberty like hors d’ouerves on a silver platter, saying “Hello, I’ll be your steward of liberty this evening!” I wondered what liberty would taste like—a spinach puff pastry? A chunk of brie? I couldn’t begin to process the enormity of the title that had just been bestowed upon me. Now, all these years later, I find myself taking that title very seriously. Our liberties feel at risk in a way they never have before.
I have started Lady/Liberty/Lit as part of my stewardship, a forum for women-identifying and gender-non-conforming writers, a forum where we can be heard loudly, clearly, writing about freedom of voice and body. A freedom we will not relinquish to any regime.
I think of the lines from Emma Lazarus' poem, "The New Colossus": "A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame/Is the imprisoned lightning." Here you will find women wielding pens like torches, full of lightning. Women all lit up.
--Gayle Brandeis, Editor