Editor’s note: The following is a transcript of Asra Nomani’s remarks upon receiving the Resilience Award, delivered at the 2021 Annual Awards Gala. Nicki Neily spoke on Ms. Nomani’s behalf.

Julie Gunlock: Hey, everyone. Isn’t this room beautiful? It is such a beautiful night tonight and it’s so great to see you all. You know, I love the work that I do at the Independent Women’s Network, and I feel so lucky to be one of Larry’s cohosts, along with Patrice, and Amber Athey is also in the room, and she is also a cohost for Larry’s show. But I have another title, and it’s one that I’m most proud of. I’m sorry, Larry. It was super close. Super close. It’s that I’m a mom. And I’m a Northern Virginia mom. That is why I am so honored to introduce our next and last – we are almost to the end – the afterparty is about to start – last award. The Resilience Award was created to recognize an individual who exhibits bravery, courage, and inner strength in order to create and fight for better communities. And let me tell you, I know it is hard standing up to the public schools and the powers that support them. It takes real bravery, tenacity, and persistence. Fortunately, we have seen a lot of those qualities in some of the parents we have here tonight and parents all across the country. And let’s remember, these parents were fighting at the same time the feds were calling them domestic terrorists, yet they stood up and they fought. And they are winning. Parents succeeded in creating real change in Virginia. Let’s hear it for Governor-elect Youngkin. And this change will continue because there is a hunger for it and it’s contagious. The Independent Women’s Forum, along with the Independent Women’s Network, is so proud to be working with these parents. We did that just yesterday at a rally on Capitol Hill where we sent a clear message: We do not share custody of our kids with the government. Tonight, we are honored to honor a true heroine of the parent movement. Our official awardee, Asra Nomani, unfortunately couldn’t join us tonight because of an illness, but I do know she is watching live right now. Hey, Asra. We all love you. Asra stood out as a fearless activist. I mean, she stills stands out. She is probably tweeting while she is home. And she has tangled with a lot of very scary people, from Al Qaeda to the Fairfax County school boards. We are not sure who is more scary, but Asra would be the first to say that she is one of many – and this is her phrase, and I love it when she says this – mama bears and papa bears from around the country who stood up to say enough. We aren’t going to stay silent and it’s time to fight for our kids. Accepting the Resilience Award on Asra’s behalf is my dear, dear friend, Nicki Neily. Nicki, please join me on stage. Nicki is the president and founder of Parents Defending Education, where Asra serves as vice president. It is a national nonprofit giving parents the resources and most importantly the support they need to advocate for their children’s education. Joining Nicki tonight are several other tremendously brave and powerful parents who have been fighting to change our country. We have Tiffany Justice, Dr. Katarina Lindley, Nicole Solas, and Xi Van Fleet. All of these parents behind me deserve to be recognized and thanked. All of them are working tirelessly alongside Asra to build a better country, not only for their own children, but for ours. Join me in recognizing these heroes.

Nicki Neily: Thank you all so much. I am so honored to accept this award on behalf of Asra, and I am so sorry that she is not able to be here because honestly, she is way cooler than I am. So, she gave me her remarks. I will read them on her behalf:

Like so many of you, I became an accidental advocate in the battle for the soul of America’s children. For me, it began with an email on June 7th, 2020. The school principal at my son’s high school, the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, told our schools, mostly immigrant, mostly Asian minority parents that we need to check our privilege. What’s more, she ushered in a new era in which activists were targeting everything from the school’s race-blind, merit-based admissions policy to the school’s mascot, the Colonial. It was then, my friends, that I found my fellow mama bears and papa bears in this battle, courageous, bold, and resilient. It is then that I found you. On Twitter from Alexandria, Virginia, Julie Gunlock, from the Independent Women’s Forum, had my back no matter the time of day. Your strong women leaders, like Carrie Lukas, inspired me. Across the street from me, in Loudoun Country, Ian Prior, and Xi put our movement on steroids. Down the Potomac River, in Arlington, Nicki created an organization, Parents Defending Education, so that we could carry out this mission not only with business cards, institutional support, and muscle, not just between bus stop pickups. My friends at Parents Defending Education, Marissa Fallon, and Erika Sanzi, allowed us to supersize our movement from Beaverton, Oregon, to Barrington, Rhode Island, joined by people like Dr. Lindley and Tiffany Justice. And from Rhode Island, brave mothers like Nicole Solas joined me in declaring loud and clear to the world, “We are moms and dads, not domestic terrorists.” Together, as a national movement, parents won Virginia back for our children. I am so sorry I cannot be present with you tonight, but in my absence is a metaphor. When one of us cannot be present, we have a pack of mama bears and papa bears, as well as single women, single men, and grandparents who can fill the space. And tonight, let’s applaud not just one of us, but all of us. Together we are bold, courageous, and resilient. The minute we became parents, we became resilient because no one will come between us and our cubs. Together we are the mama bear and the papa bear movement, and tonight we applaud each and every one of you. Thank you so much.