The goal of Black Girls Movement is to create an open and safe space for honest discussions. Starting tomorrow, Columbia University is going to be hosting the Black Girl Movement Conference. This conference is three days long, and gathers hundreds of girls under the age of 18, as well as black female educators, policymakers and thought leaders, such as Melissa Harris-Perry and Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin, to tackle the problems young black women are facing. “Often times, Black girls are seen as future women, future wives, but not as their age-appropriate selves, as young people needing the love and support and the opportunity that other young people need,” said one of the conference’s organizers Joanne Smith, founder and executive director of Girls for Gender Equity.
Friday’s panels kick off with discussions on government policy and philanthropy, along with a workshop designed to encourage girls to use the arts–specifically rap, spoken word, song and dance– to ignite social cooperation and conversations. “One of the sessions that we’re really looking forward to is the Black girl Bill of Rights, where Black girls will declare the long- and short-term rights that they would like for politicians to really fight for,” Smith said.
Beginning Saturday, the attendees will be able to attend nine sessions on topics like ending violence against women, providing girls with reproductive health care and even a play showing the often hidden side of black women in urban America. “Our stories of state-sanctioned violence and gender-based violence are seen as things that come second to race-based violence in men and boys,” Smith said. “We want to say that Black girls actually need to be centered. We include all Black girls—that’s cis, trans and gender nonconforming girls—and we all have a role and responsibility to be able to do that.”