Sophie Smith-Brody speech
Given at the He Named Me Malala screening

Hi everyone, my name is Sophie Smith-Brody. My grandmother, who is in the audience today, is the closest living relative of Anne Frank. I bet you’re all thinking, “how can you possibly relate Anne Frank, a young girl who died in 1945 during the Holocaust to Malala Yousafzai, one of the top advocators for girls’ education in 2015?” Well, you’d be surprised.

As a 16-year-old living in Manhattan, one of my biggest struggles is school – getting homework done, studying for tests, preparing for college, etc. On top of that, I go to a performing arts school, which means I have four more periods in a day than a regular high school does – something I am often guilty of complaining about. Malala opened up my eyes to how much I take for granted. While I’m sitting here in Manhattan complaining about going to school where I can excel in academics as well as study my craft of singing, 66 million girls on the other side of the world aren’t even entitled to a simple English or math class.

My cousin Anne Frank absolutely loved school. She loved reading, writing, and learning. However when she had to go into hiding from the Nazis, education was taken away from her. When my grandmother was 13 years old, she was called into her principal’s office and told that she was no longer allowed to go to school, simply because of the fact that she was a Jew. Now, that’s all just history right? No, it’s not. In her acceptance speech of the 2014 Liberty Award, Malala explained that she was raising her voice for the children in Syria who were in schools getting quality education, and then were suddenly ripped from their homes and put into camps. Does this sound familiar at all? Why does history always repeat itself in the worst ways?

So to all you middle and high schoolers in the audience, I’m going to ask of you one thing. The next time you have a super long homework assignment that you don’t really feel like doing – do it. Stop and think about how much you can learn from that one assignment, and how much a kid who doesn’t get to go to school would give to learn that same information. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for my grandmother, do it for Anne, do it for Malala, or do it for the 66 million girls. As a high schooler myself, I’ll try my best to do the same. Thank you.