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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

‘No place like this’: Colored Girls Museum opens exhibition on Black girlhood

The Colored Girls Museum opened in 2015 at Vashti DuBois’ former residence in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. PHOTO: AZIZAT OSINAIKE

The Center of Inclusion and Diversity (CID) partnered with The Colored Girls Museum on Feb. 23 to offer St. Joe’s students an exclusive tour of the museum’s latest exhibition, “Sit a Spell.” 

Vashti DuBois, who led the tour, founded The Colored Girls Museum in 2015 at her former residence in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. After her husband died in 2014, DuBois turned their three-story house into a museum.

“I knew that there was no place like this,” DuBois said. “I know that nobody made a museum for Black women and girls.” 

“Sit a Spell” is an invitation for visitors to see Black girlhood. Each room of the museum represents a part of the body. The room dedicated to eyes is filled with books written by Black authors along with dolls by various Black doll makers resting on top of the bookshelves. 

Another room contains various paintings, portraits, sculptures and other works by Black women artists from Philadelphia, as well as a handful of works by Black women artists from other states and from Ghana. The only room that has a permanent collection is the Heart room, which goes into the history of the work Black women have done to take care of their families.

Throughout the tour with the CID, DuBois stressed that the museum is for “ordinary Black girls,” that each piece in the museum is intentional and that there is no need to explain why each piece is important. It’s important if any Black girl says it’s important, DuBois said.

Madgee Pierre Louis ’24, who participated in the tour, said she really liked the way the museum was laid out.

“The choice of furniture and the choice of colors and the choice of everything that was exposed in the museum was just very Black,” Pierre Louis said. “It felt very homey, very comfortable.”

Justin Davis ’24, who was also on the tour said he especially liked the room dedicated to Black boys. This room originally belonged to one of DuBois’ sons and included Marvel Black Panther figurines. 

“That’s how I was taught or learned Black heritage, through action figures,” Davis said. “It’s nice to resonate with them.”

Pierre Louis said her favorite part of the exhibit was the Medusa Room, where Medusa is portrayed as a Black woman.

“The story of Medusa as a Black woman, that was so beautiful. That she just turned men to stone was a gorgeous story,” Pierre Louis said. “I really found peace in that room.”

Imani Briscoe, program specialist for Inclusion and Diversity Experiential Programming (IDEP), said the museum trip was a part of the CID’s Kickback series, which was created to bring awareness of the CID to students and to foster community building through programs on and off campus.

Briscoe said she appreciated visiting a museum being dedicated to ordinary Black girls. 

“There is an erasure, if you will, of the average Black woman or girl,” Briscoe said. “There usually has to be something extraordinary about you to stand out, for you to make a mark, for you to be heard or seen.” 

DuBois said prioritizing experiences that aren’t our own is “how we become bigger, broader, deeper humans.”

“People who do not identify as women or girls in the African diaspora may say to themselves, ‘What would be the point of visiting a place like a Colored Girls Museum?’” DuBois said. “I would say that something really incredible happens when something’s not about you. There’s a different kind of learning that takes place.”

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