Shana Bryant Consulting - Visionary Behind the Beautiful Me Girls Conference: Empowering, Embracing & Exalting Our Black Girls!
“I’m beautiful because I am me!” This was the resounding cry of 90 girls at the 1st annual Beautiful Me Girls Conference that took place on June 9th & 10th. Hosted on Cambridge College’s Charlestown campus, the two day event was organized by Shana Bryant Consulting and Angela Childs and Stephanie Johnson of Black Girls Rising. Inspired by the 2016 documentary of the same name, the goals of the Beautiful Me Conference was “to empower Black girls to connect their identity with history, to embrace and foster positive relationships with other Black girls, and to exalt the skin they’re in.” (Beautiful Me Girls Conference website)
With girls ranging in grades six through twelve, they were organized into smaller age appropriate cohorts and assigned a Big Sister that remained with them throughout the duration of the weekend. The Big Sister's role was to help the girls feel comfortable and successfully navigate the weekend by engaging with them during meals and sitting in on the four workshop sessions they attended. Facilitated by women from the community, workshop topics included Healthy Relationships and Mental Health, Sexual Health, Racism and Social Injustice and Self-Esteem in the Age of Social Media. During these workshops, open and candid conversations were had in a safe and affirming space. In addition, conference speakers included Regina Robinson, Dean of Student Affairs at Cambridge College, Zuwena Easterling, a junior at Louisiana State University, Liz Miranda, Candidate for 5th Suffolk District and Tanisha Sullivan, attorney and President of the Boston Branch NAACP.
During meals and downtime, the young ladies were entertained by MC Ms. ToyaTiffany and DJ Why Sham. Whole room sing alongs to Drake’s 'God’s Plan' broke out as did dance offs between the middle school girls. One high schooler even had the courage to get up and rap one of her original songs, and walked off the stage to the high-fives and amazement of her peers. By the end of the weekend, it was apparent that these young ladies had received love, knowledge and empowerment and were leaving fulfilled. As a beautiful parting activity the young ladies recited the 'Black Girl Manifesto' of which the last two lines read, “I will create a life by design and not by default / I am a Black girl rising!”
The Beautiful Me Girls Conference was a wonderfully thought out and beautifully executed conference. Not one detail was overlooked, and quality was of the utmost importance; whether it was the food that was provided, the conference space itself, the many sponsors or the many amazing black women who gave their time and resources. This being the first of many conferences, only bigger and better is yet to come!
See the recap video below produced by The Crystal Lens Productions!