Brooklyn-based artist Matt Rudinski created a T-shirt baring the phrase “Nevertheless, She Persisted” after Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used the phrase while silencing Sen. Elizabeth Warren during a confirmation hearing for Sen. Jeff Sessions.
“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” McConnell said during the hearing.
“What happened to Elizabeth Warren, when Mitch McConnell said those words, it was an instantaneous reaction on the Internet,” Rudinski tells PEOPLE. “People were saying, ‘There’s the new battle cry’ or ‘That’s going to be my protest sign.’ ”
Given the fervor around the phrase, Rudinski came up with the idea to put it on a T-shirt and donate 100 percent of the proceeds to Planned Parenthood.
“I posted [the T-shirt] on Facebook that night and left it alone, thinking only a few people would buy it,” he said. “When I woke up, $1,500 had been raised without any advertising push.”
Rudinski believes the T-shirt took off so quickly because many people had a strong reaction to McConnell’s words.
“A lot of people saw what happened and felt like they needed to express anger,” he says. “Seeing that they could get this shirt and have all of the proceeds go to Planned Parenthood, it was a good outlet for people. It’s basically wearing a protest sign.”
Rudinski has now sold over 25,000 T-shirts on his Teespring page and has raised over $250,000 for Planned Parenthood.
“I know House Republicans are so eager to defund Planned Parenthood, so it just felt so perfect to me to turn his words against him and to raise money from something he said,” Rudinski explains. “Planned Parenthood is an organization I deeply believe in and want to help. It just felt like the right organization to benefit.”