Girls and gender-expansive youth of color continue to be at the forefront of social justice movements and serve as examples for us all. (Photo screenshot of CNN’s History Refocused)

 

Recognizing the contributions of girls of color

International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month offer an opportunity to recognize the unique contributions that girls and gender-expansive youth of color have made to secure more equitable and just futures, and to honor the women and femmes who have advanced the rights of all women and girls throughout history. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the organizations that nurture girls’ leadership, safety, and joy, and work to ensure that the historical role that girls of color have played in advancing women’s rights are memorialized and acknowledged.  

Throughout history, girls have courageously stood up against injustice and with their acts, creativity, and activism. We honor Claudette Colvin and Sylvia Mendez, who were critical to the Civil Rights movement and to justice for all people, but whose names are still unknown by many. 

 

Claudette Colvin is a Civil Rights hero we all need to know who, at the age of 15, refused to give up her seat on a bus 9 months before Rosa Parks did. Her activism and impact has not received the recognition she is due, yet. (Photo screengrab CNN).

Claudette Colvin is a Civil Rights hero we all need to know who, at the age of 15, refused to give up her seat on a bus 9 months before Rosa Parks did. Her activism and impact has not received the recognition she is due, yet. (Photo screengrab, CNN).

Nine months before Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus and give up her seat for a white person, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin did the same, and was arrested. The revolutionary act of this young Black girl who stood in her power on March 2 of 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, was the catalyst that changed history. Decades later, Claudette’s memory of that day remains vivid. “People said I was crazy,” she recently recalled, “because I was 15 years old and defiant, and shouting ‘it’s my constitutional right!’” She was handcuffed and thrown in jail, and you can hear Claudette’s recollections in this video

 

Sylvia Mendez was one of the first students of Mexican descent to attend an all-white school in California, after the Mendez v. Westminster case in 1947 ended segregation in that state, and paved the way for the rest of the country. (Photo credit: heritageandarts.utah.gov).

Sylvia Mendez was one of the first students of Mexican descent to attend an all-white school in California, after the Mendez v. Westminster case in 1947 ended segregation in that state, and paved the way for the rest of the country. (Photo credit: heritageandarts.utah.gov).

Another girl of color instrumental in changing history in 1947 was 9-year-old  Sylvia Mendez, who was at the center of the landmark case Mendez v. Westminster, which ended segregation in California public schools for children of Mexican descent, and paved the way for the national ban on segregating in Brown v. Board of Education seven years later. 

Claudette and Sylvia’s legacies continue in the acts of girls like 10-year-old Isis Haq Lukolyo, who penned an essay objecting to erasure, and the importance of teaching accurate and critical American history in schools. It went viral and ignited important conversations across the nation, including the necessity for social studies teachers to discuss racism in curricula. 

Throughout this month, as we honor the women and femmes of color who have boldly and brilliantly carved a path towards justice, we ask you to remember that they were once young girls. At Grantmakers for Girls of Color, we are proud to support organizations that pour into girls and gender-expansive youth of color by nurturing their leadership, power, brilliance, and joy. We applaud these organizations that do not misinterpret power and courage for “defiance.” And we recognize these organizations led by women and femmes who are making history by fighting for free and just futures. We dedicate this month to the girls mistakenly labeled as “defiant,” “crazy,” and worse, because they are the same girls who are bold enough to dream a better future for us all. 

In community,

Monique W. Morris,  Ed.D.
Executive Director
Grantmakers for Girls of Color

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Celebrate Black Girl Freedom Week with these links!

Did you miss any of the uplifting conversations and celebrations during our very first Black Girl Freedom Week in February? Don’t worry, we’ve kept all the videos for you to watch again and again, and share with someone who needs a bit of inspiration! Visit the Black Girl Freedom Week page, and click on the top right of the player to find all the videos and inspirational conversations that show what is possible when we invest abundantly in the power and leadership of Black girls, and work together to co-create a future where they are safe, free and thriving.

We also invite you to take this survey. We want to learn about all the powerful organizations, people, collectives and places that uplift Black girls and gender-expansive youth. Please share this link with Black girls and gender-expansive Black youth, we want to hear directly from them! 

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Get to know our amazing grantees, and their important mission

We want to recognize these two Black-led organizations and #LoveIsHealing grantee partners who are working to support Black girls and gender-expansive youth (and were left out of our list in a previous email). They are:

  • Sadie Nash Leadership Project, working to strengthen, empower, and equip young women and gender-expansive youth of color as agents for change in their lives and in the world. Operating at the intersections of love and rigor, they use popular education to build community, critical consciousness, and college and career readiness.
  • Detroit Women of Color, Inc., focused on lifting the voices of Black girls and girls of color through film. They believe in the strength, beauty, and resilience of Black and Brown girls and women. During the pandemic, they recognize the need to share resources, and support their participants by lifting their stories through digital storytelling, sisterhood, leadership development, and healing.

We encourage you to get to know them and all of our grantee partners. We invite you to engage and uplift the organizations that support the wisdom of Black, Indigenous, Latina, Asian, Arab, Pacific Islander, and other girls and gender-expansive youth of color. 

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Red Nose Day is coming! 

Mark your calendars: March 19th is Red Nose Day (RND) a campaign with the important mission to end child poverty and tackle homelessness, hunger, domestic abuse, mental health stigma (all of which have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic). G4GC is excited to partner with the RND campaign this year to raise awareness about need to ensure economic justice for girls and gender expansive youth of color, especially in the wake of the pandemic. Since the RND debut in 2015, they have raised more than $240M to support programs that address the immediate needs of children in poverty, while fostering long-term change. 

The goal of RNS is to keep children safe, healthy, educated, and empowered. Spreading the word and participating in this campaign is a way to provide safety to families who need support, help tackle mental health stigma, take action against domestic abuse, and help give children a brighter future. This is a special day to get nosey about fundraising, and raise money and laughter! Stay tuned on social media and help us uplift this important campaign!