From left, Alicia Wright, La’Keisha Gray-Sewell, Heidi Pearson, Appreccia Faulkner, Final Call Contributing Writer Shawntell Muhammad and her daughter Nur Muhammad attended the September 21 resolution making Day of the Girl, an official holiday in the Windy City. Ms. Gray Sewell worked for years to have the city recognize October 11th as an official Chicago Day of the Girl holiday.

CHICAGO—La’Keisha Gray-Sewell, founder and executive director of Girls Like Me Project based in Chicago, rallied for 11 years to have the city of Chicago recognize October 11th as an official Chicago Day of the Girl holiday. On September 21, 2022, the resolution was passed, officially making October 11th, Chicago Day of the Girl.

Girls Like Me Project’s mission as outlined on their website states, “The mission of GLMPI is to help African-American girls ages 11-17 critically examine social, cultural, and political ideologies in media so that they will be able to overcome stigmas and negative stereotypes. We equip them with the tools and strategies to become influential, independent digital storytellers who transform their communities and foster global sisterhood.”

Shortly after hearing the Chicago City Council announce the passing of the resolution, Ms. Gray-Sewell who was overcome with tears of joy, stated to The Final Call, “This moment feels surreal. It feels vindicated for Black girls who have been erased out of this city’s story. Black girls who have been left on the margins of this city; Black girls who have been divested from this day reclaiming their place not only in the city but in the global sisterhood.”

Ms. Gray-Sewell continued, “Now for generations Black girls and all women and girls get to be recognized and celebrated. Black women and Black girls will usher this day in. The mothers of this city, Ida B. Wells, Gwendolyn Brooks, so many of our ancestors fought for our young people to have a place in this city. I’m just so proud that the  Girls Like Me Project has been able to have been a part of moving that history forward for generations. It’s an amazing day. We made history.”

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The United Nations has declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl. Around the world, there are movements to advocate for girls, to bring equity to girls, to address issues such as gender violence, sex trafficking, education rights, and child marriage.

La’Keisha Gray-Sewell, founder and executive director of Girls Like Me Project, in Chicago.

“In Chicago we have made this day to advocate housing, sex trafficking, gender violence, missing and murdered Black girls here in Chicago,” Ms. Gray-Sewell stated. “We have also used this day to celebrate that our girls are doing amazing things. Our girls have given vibrancy to this city, contributing every day to the school system, the culture and more.”

Supporters of the initiative were also on hand as the resolution was passed.

“I am the Founder and CEO of Global Strategists Association, which is an organization that works to increase global engagement among the African Diaspora, specifically by Chicago. Today is just beautiful. I am here as a friend, as a Black woman to support the proclamation of Chicago Day of the Girl,” Appreccia Faulkner stated.

“For so long the fight for global affairs, the quality has been hostile toward Black people, they pardoned that narrative. To have a Black woman in Chicago makes a statement of we belong to this community as well, and that we have global goals and that we should also be part of leadership. I’m so proud of La’Keisha Gray-Sewell.”

Alicia Wright has a daughter in the Girls Like Me Project and is also an assistant to Ms. Gray-Sewell. She stated, “I am very proud of La’Keisha, and today was definitely a historical day.”

This year Girls Like Me Project is inviting students to join this day and for schools to partner its efforts to provide 150 adolescent girls with an opportunity to participate in a special field trip and service-learning opportunity which will take place on Tuesday, October 11 from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive, Chicago, 60649. The day will feature guest speakers, healing corners, a Black girls reflection booth and much more.  

Visit Chicago Day of the Girl website to learn more about the program, and also to register for the October 11th event: www.chicagodayofthegirl.com.

(Shawntell Muhammad can be contacted at [email protected])