Rashida Jones, Naomi Wadler and. Rep. Ayanna Pressley Kick Off Inaugural Black Girl Freedom Week

Illustration for article titled Rashida Jones, Naomi Wadler and. Rep. Ayanna Pressley Kick Off Inaugural Black Girl Freedom Week
Photo: Black Girl Freedom Fund

February is a month to celebrate Black History—and to make a push on advocacy for Black girls. The Black Girl Freedom Fund launched in September 2020 to do just that, with a mission to raise $1 billion to invest in Black girls and young women over the next 10 years.

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Launched by Dr. Monique W. Morris, who wrote PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools (and created the documentary of the same name), along with #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, LaTosha Brown, Fatima Goss Graves, Joanne N. Smith, A Long Walk Home’s Salamishah and Scheherazade Tillet, and Ms. Foundation President Teresa C. Younger, the initiative and organization were announce in September with an open letter from the co-founders inviting the public to fund $1 billion in Black girls and young women over the next decade, co-signed by Ciara, Valerie Jarrett, Rashida Jones, Gabrielle Union and many more.

On Monday, Rashida Jones returned, along with Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) to help the organization with the next step in its #1Billion4BlackGirls campaign, the inaugural Black Girl Freedom Week. Student activist Naomi Wadler was also on hand, as will be many of the campaign’s founders during this week of events, which kicked off on Sunday.

Per a press release provided to The Glow Up:

Black Girl Freedom Fund, an initiative of Grantmakers for Girls of Color, is hosting the inaugural Black Girl Freedom Week (February 14-20, 2021) to celebrate what is possible when we invest abundantly in dreams, power, and leadership of Black girls—Black cis and trans girls, Black gender-expansive youth, Black fem(mes)—and work together to co-create a future where they are safe, free, and thriving. Black Girl Freedom Fund was launched on September 15 with an open letter and a social media campaign (1Billion4BlackGirls.org, #1Billion4BlackGirls) to mobilize investments “in the brain trust, innovation, health, safety, education, research, and joy of Black girls and their families.”

“Black Girl Freedom Week is a dedicated time and place to nourish and foster community and belonging for girls who have few spaces to strengthen their identity as leaders, change-makers and visionaries,” says Dr. Morris, executive director of Grantmakers for Girls of Color. “We launched Black Girl Freedom Fund because we know that investing in Black girls and women’s leadership, innovation, wellness, and advocacy, and JOY is necessary for our collective freedom.”

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Black Girl Freedom Week soft-launched on Sunday in recognition of the 19th Women’s Memorial March, held annually on February 14, with “Recognizing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Black Girls, a conversation about the cross-movement connections to protect Indigenous and Black girls from violence and trafficking,” between Scheherazade Tillet, co-founder and executive director of A Long Walk Home and Director of Community Engagement at Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center Sheila Zephier.

On Monday, the conversations continued, as Dr. Morris and Jones gave an official welcome and introduction to the week’s events, followed by a conversation with Wadler and Pressley “about the leadership of Black girls and women to create change, from grassroots to the halls of Congress.” The organization also gave a sneak peek at how the fund and its celebrity supporters came together to publish its viral open letter on the 59th anniversary of the Birmingham church bombing, “calling for $1 billion to secure a vibrant future for Black girls.”

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Per the press release, the remainder of this week’s scheduled events broadcasting to 1Billion4BlackGirls.org include:

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Tuesday, February 16, 5-5:30 pm, ET | 4-4:30 pm, CT | 3-3:30 pm, MT | 2-2:30 pm, PT

Behind the Scenes of Black Girl Freedom Fund: Hear how Ciara, Beverly Bond, Valerie Jarrett, Rashida Jones, Gabrielle Union and many others came together to publish an open letter on the 59th anniversary of the Birmingham church bombing, calling for $1 billion to secure a vibrant future for Black girls.

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Wednesday, February 17, 5:30 - 6 pm, ET | 4:30-5 pm, CT | 3:30-4 pm, MT | 2:30-3 pm, PT

Safety and Justice for Black Girls: How can we create safe communities for Black girls? Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center and co-founder of the #1Billion4BlackGirls campaign, highlights the policy priorities for upholding justice for Black girls and their families.

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Friday, February 19, 4:30-5:30 pm, ET | 3:30-4:30 pm, CT | 2:30-3:30 pm, MT | 1:30-2:30 pm, PT

Ensuring Black Girl Futures Through Public Policy: A safe and thriving future for Black girls requires systemic transformation. Leaders from Girls for Gender Equity will share a national policy agenda for Black girls, including updates to the Black Girls Bill of Rights, originally curated in 2016.

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It’s bound to be a week full of inspiration and motivation for Black women and girls, as the #1Billion4BlackGirls campaign “invites us to imagine what 2030 can look like if we invest $1 billion in Black girls and young women over the next 10 years.”

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, co-host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door...May I borrow some sugar?

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