Why I Wrote Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

Published on: 02 March 2018 Author: Vashti Harrison

Early in February 2017 I had an idea. I wanted to create a drawing challenge for myself, in the vein of "Mer-May" and "Ink-tober," but one that felt like it was all my own. Using Black History Month in the United States as a jumping off point I would draw a famous figure every day and post it along with a short bio to my social media.

Vashti Harrison & Little Leaders - Bold Women in Black History

I was thinking a lot about the sentiment behind Black History Month. When Carter G. Woodson started Negro History Week in 1926 he wanted to celebrate the stories that were often neglected throughout history. I felt inspired to use Black History Month as an opportunity to focus on black women in particular, whose stories have been doubly neglected.

I wanted to learn more about famous and lesser-known figures and share their stories with others. However, when I started the project, I didn't expect how deeply connected I would feel to their stories - stories of hard work, dedication, courage through adversity, love for craft and love for family. Many of these women didn't have a choice but to be bold, and I just felt overwhelmingly thankful for them paving the way for others and for me.

Mary Seacole

Suddenly these incredible figures in history were not just names on a page but humans with passions and dreams and fears and struggles. I wanted to convey that in this book and dug deep to find those human connections in each one of their stories. Once I knew that this project would become a book, I tried to be very thoughtful in selecting the list of women. It was important to me to showcase a diverse list of names and fields of study, to celebrate the many contributions black women have made to history and to share with young readers the many possibilities that are out there for them.

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