by Dr. Artika Tyner
Black women have been at the forefront of advancing social change through the exercise of service and leadership. Our foremothers paved the way by building strong families and communities. Their stories can serve as a source of inspiration for the next generation of young women to discover their purpose, make an impact, and plant seeds of social change.
These seven books will provide tools for educators, parents, and mentors to engage black girls in a process of self-discovery and the unveiling of their #blackgirlmagic. The female role models showcased in these books, from: Rosa Parks to a young girl named Faith, will inspire black girls of all ages to chase their dreams and make an impact. These “sheroes” teach important lessons on: relentless courage, unyielding persistence, fierce determination and unwavering faith.
by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Let it Shine serves as a chronicle of #BlackGirlMagic. It showcases the leadership profiles of black women freedom fighters. It begins with the story of Sojourner Truth who was born into slavery but never allowed these chains of bondage to have a permanent hold on her future. She was committed from her childhood to be free and liberate others. In 1843, she received the divine revelation of her life’s purpose which was to preach what is real and right. Hence, her name change from Isabelle to Sojourner Truth- “a traveler who’s telling it like it is.” The book concludes with a salute to the first African American woman to run for President. In 1972, Shirley Chisholm reminded all women to dare to be revolutionaries and reject the status quo. She was “unbought and unbossed” as she campaigned to become President of the United States.
by Robert Coles
This book chronicles the story of the young Ruby Bridges who radically changed the course of the Nation’s history as she dealt a forceful blow to Jim Crow. Ruby stood against segregation in schools which restricted Black students from attending White schools. In 1960, six year old Ruby Bridges attended Frantz Elementary School (an all-White school). For months, a mob of White parents and children met her at the school doors employing fear and intimidation as a deterrence. Despite their efforts, Ruby would not be moved like a tree planted by the water. With a prayer of strength, determination, and the power of forgiveness, she made the trek into her school and each time dealt a strike against Jim Crow.
by Nikki Giovanni
Rosa explores the power of courage. Parks by sitting in her seat on the segregated bus and refusing to move struck a devastating blow to Jim Crow. She took a courageous stand against Jim Crow as she had grown weary of the daily reality of injustice. Mrs. Parks had become “tired of ‘separate’ and definitely tired of ‘not equal.’ Her courageous efforts were the spark for the Montgomery Bus Boycott where African Americans refused to ride buses until justice was the order of the day. For 381 days, African Americans walked through the rain and hot sun. Nearly a year after Rosa Parks’ arrest, the U.S. Supreme Court declared segregation on buses illegal.
by Nikki Grimes
Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman dared to believe that she could make a difference in the world from her early days in the cotton fields of Atlanta, Texas to her pioneering international travels. Her passion and drive laid the foundation for her to become the first African American female pilot. With this mighty feat, she broke down barriers for women and people of color. She was denied access to flying schools due to a combination of gender discrimination and racial segregation (Jim Crow) hence she traveled to France in 1920 for her training. In September 1921, she returned to the United States and amazed crowds with her mastery in aviation.
by bell hooks
Happy to be Nappy reminds black girls of their natural beauty both inside and outside. It celebrates black hair from cornrows to fuzzy fros. The young reader is encouraged to love the reflection in the mirror each of every day. Author bell hooks empowers young black girls to embark on a journey of self-discovery and self-love. On this journey, girls find the beauty of their hair as a means of self-expression of freedom and power. bell hooks draws upon her experience as a cultural critic and feminist to reframe the discourse about Black beauty by reminding black girls of their natural beauty.
by President Barack Obama
This book opens with a compelling statement: “Have I told you lately how wonderful you are?” President Obama reminds his daughters how creative, smart, brave, strong, kind, and inspiring they are. Obama draws upon the stories of Jackie Robinson, Billie Holiday, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to inspire his daughters to unleash the greatness within. He shared the story of Jackie Robinson’s bravery despite adversity and obstacles. Each time he swung his bat, he struck a devastating blow against injustice. Billie Holiday lifted her voice for justice through song. While, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. prayed, marched, and preached for freedom. Through these examples, black girls are connected to a rich history of leaders and change agents.
by Veronica N. Chapman
I Know I Can offers inspiration for life’s journey. It chronicles the life of a young girl named: Faith. Faith dares to believe she can reach her dreams and infinite possibility lie ahead. Through her dreams, she inspired by the leadership legacy of civil rights legends like Fannie Lou Hamer, Nina Simone and Mahalia Jackson. She also explores the world from the safaris of South Africa to the Louvre Museum in Paris. On these adventures, she develops as a woman of faith and leader who pursues her educational goals.
Each of these books will offer young women the power to discover their gifts and talents and cultivate their natural leadership abilities. As I read the books, I was reminded of the many great female mentors and sheroes who inspired me on my leadership journey. They laid the foundation for me to discover that I was fearfully and wonderfully made and had the power to make a difference in the world. You can provide this inspiration for the next generation of young women as well.
These books provide rich learning opportunities. For example, I Know I Can serves as a practical teaching tool. The author provides a list of questions and activities in order to support the leadership development of young women.
Pick up one of these books and share these leadership lessons with a black girl in your circle whether it be your daughter, niece, cousin, mentee, or student and spread #BlackGirlMagic to each one of them.
Dr. Artika R. Tyner is a passionate educator, author, sought after speaker, and advocate for justice. At the University of St. Thomas, Dr. Tyner serves as the interim Diversity and Inclusion Officer. She trains students to serve as social engineers who create new inroads to justice and freedom.