Girls Like Me Founder Wants To Instill Pride in Black Girls

LaKeisha Gray Sewell, founder of Girls Like Me, wants young girls to understand the power of media and how to use it to combat stereotypes.
LaKeisha Gray Sewell, founder of Girls Like Me, wants young girls to understand the power of media and how to use it to combat stereotypes.

Girls Like Me Founder Wants To Instill Pride in Black Girls

By Tia Carol Jones


LaKeisha Gray Sewell began the Girls Like Me Project after volunteering in her son’s classroom in 2008. She observed the young girls in the class were exhibiting negative behavior. She decided to host a ladies’ lunch for the girls, who were in fourth grade, as a way to break up the mean girl behavior and develop a sense of responsibility and love for each other.


“We saw immediate changes, we saw bonds forming where girls were actually feeling responsible and accountable for each other. They were actually looking out for each other,” she said.


Sewell also noticed girls who once would shrink away found their voice, would speak up for themselves and found interests outside of school. She stayed with them through eighth grade. She expanded the program to the next campus and included other girls.


Sewell realized it needed to be done more than just once a week on a volunteer basis, it needed to be more organized.  She made it a non-profit organization in 2012. The goal of the organization is to help girls critically examine the social, cultural and political ideologies that are in media. Doing that allows the girls to push back against any stereotypes, stigmas and untruths.


Sewell thought back to her childhood, watching characters like Claire Huxtable, Denise Huxtable and Whitley Gilbert. Watching those characters and reading Maya Angelou and Virginia Hamilton provided an escape for her. She found the power in the  media and it gave her a positive reflection.


“I just think the power of media is so important. I just knew if that could give me a sense of hope and flight and ambition, then it could definitely be a tool we could use for the girls of this generation. That we could show them a different, positive way,” she said.


Sewell wants to use media to give girls hope for the future and also to affirm where they are right now. She want to let them know where they and who they are is valuable. One of Sewell’s sheroes is Ida B. Wells.


“When you use media in a responsible way, you can move this nation, you can move this world, and you can also move your own mind outside of blocks that it may be experiencing,” she said.


The Chicago Day of the Girl is in its 10th year. Sewell noticed United Nations’ Day of the Girl, but it left out Black girls in America, their voices and experiences. Sewell decided to include Black girls on the South and West sides of Chicago that would participate through Girls Like Me. The girls are part of a global conversation.


Dear Chicago Girl Podcast is a way for girls to express themselves, hear themselves and hear one another. The girls use the platform as a space for them, with topics the girls choose. Sewell said it is a great platform to hear what girls in Chicago are thinking.


“I always say unapologetically that everything in this world will move forward because of a Black girl and Black women who came out of Chicago,” she said.


Girls Like Me is looking to directly reach 400 African American girls by 2023-2024. The organization is creating a talk show, a space for them to express themselves and share community resources. It also will be going into schools, and training other organizations that want to do work around media literacy and digital storytelling.


Sewell wants the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois and Cook County to declare October 11 as Day of the Girl.

 For more information on Girls Like Me, visit girlslikemeproject.org, or call 773-599-3490.

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