Monday, February 24, 2014


Picture a little girl with a smile big enough to get lost in and eyes that shine bright like diamonds. A little girl whose heart is filled with hope that she will one day change the world. Smart and perhaps a little feisty, she has more potential than President Obama has one-liners. This little girl lives in your community. You've watched from your window as she learned to ride a bike with her father running along side to make sure she didn't fall. You've seen her slouching in the church pew in front of you with little braids peeking out from underneath her Sunday hat. You've seen her sporting sparkly gym shoes as she trudges to school behind her big brother or in the backseat of the family car, waving to people on the street. You smile and blow her a kiss because that pretty brown girl... IS YOU.   

No matter how old or how accomplished we become, a pretty brown girl will forever live in our hearts. We pay homage to the pretty brown girls who grew up to be fearless leaders. Women like Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou HamerJewel Stradford-Lafontant and Madame C.J. Walker. We thank them for allowing us to stand tall and proud on their shoulders and we also give much respect to dynamic women of todaywomen like Angela Davis, Maya Angelou, Oprah WinfreySonya Sotomayor, bell hooks, Antonia Novello, and Padmasree Warrior. These women and many more, have changed the world and the trajectory for women of color. We have embraced their greatness and have tried to emulate their wisdom and courage. We have carried many of their lessons in our hearts and minds, waiting for the day we too would have the chance to shine. 

Co-founder, Corey Crawley and his original
Pretty Brown Girls
I was fortunate to be in the company of hundreds of pretty brown girls Saturday, February 22, at the Detroit School of Arts for International Pretty Brown Girl Day. International Pretty Brown Girl Day has become an annual day to celebrate all shades of brown as part of the global Pretty Brown Girl movement founded by husband and wife duo, Corey and Sheri Crawley.

As the parents of two daughters, Corey and Sheri were concerned with the harmful messages about skin tone and beauty in the media, and the effects on girls who rarely see images of their own likeness depicted in a positive manner. Simultaneously, Sheri began asking God how she could use her gifts and talents to empower others. Her husband began using Pretty Brown Girl as a term of endearment for their daughters and together they decided to share this simple yet, powerful affirmation to encourage girls to be happy in their beautiful brown skin. The couple began by creating a product line for young ladies that carried the message Pretty Brown Girl. Soon after, the Pretty Brown Girl movement was born.

I must admit, I sat in awe watching Corey, Sheri and their team host International Pretty Brown Girl Day in Detroit, one of many cities in the United States and around the world that celebrated this special day. I was fascinated because the Pretty Brown Girl team, along with the mistress of ceremonies, Dara Davis Munson, not only showed the girls and young women in attendance that they matter and are loved, but they explained why

This movement is all about uplifting, empowering and celebrating all shades of brown. Being in the company of these excited girls made my heart soar. They knew with no uncertainty that this was their day. They danced and laughed as they held the hands of their mothers and fathers who, by the way, were as enchanted as I with this experience. Some of the girls even had their faces painted like beautiful butterflies. They posed for pictures with new friends and celebrated what it means to be pretty brown girls. They listened to messages of support and encouragement, something that is sorely needed for our girls who are often undervalued in this society. The love in the auditorium was palpable and I was moved to tears to see young ballerinas dance en pointe (Yes, you read that right... they were dancing en pointe!), to Stevie Wonder's "Love's In Need Of Love Today." All of the talented young performers reinforced that with love, encouragement and guidance, the pretty brown girls of the world can accomplish anything. It is our job then, to lift them high, make them feel safe, set good examples and give them the confidence to know that greatness lies within. 

On behalf of pretty brown girls everywhere, I thank you, Corey and Sheri Crawley. The impact of your work and the compassion that lives in your hearts extend well beyond your immediate sphere of influence. You are setting the world on fire. I can see it in the eyes and in the smiles of every young girl positively impacted by your generosity of spirit and your courage to give voice to a generation of pretty brown girls that will benefit from this kind of support and encouragement for the rest of their lives. Thank you! 
For more information on The Pretty Brown Girl Movement visit

Pictured left to right: Mistress of Ceremonies, Dara Davis Munson;
Pretty Brown Girl Co-founder, Sheri Crawley; and Leslie Gordon
The Crawley Family

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