Black Girl Genius Week is a weeklong celebration of black women in the arts and on campus. Throughout the week various artists, musicians and speakers came together to make presentations and performances across the University campus and Champaign-Urbana. The events were focused on both understanding the struggles of black women as well as celebrating their strengths and successes.

Monday 2/22

The Listening Tour Remixxx
Featuring Christina Armstrong (former EPOL graduate student)
12-1:30 PM
College of Education

The first event of Black Girl Genius Week, chosen to set the tone of the week, was a participatory discussion focused on what it means to be black girl on campus. The dialogue was led by Christina Armstrong, a former EPOL graduate student and was held in the College of Education.

Tuesday 2/23

Black Girl Genius Art Maker Space
9:30AM-12PM
Gender & Women’s Studies

Tuesday began with Black Girl Genius Art Maker Space, a collaborative artistic opportunity that allowed participants to collaborate, explore and create. The only agenda was to bring creatives together to explore their visions and share their passions.

Feminist Theory In Praxis: The Making of SOLHOTLex
Dr. Chamara Kwayke, University of Kentucky
12-1:30PM
Gender & Women’s Studies

Tuesday’s final event was a presentation by Dr. Chamara Kwayke of the University of Kentucky, the creator of SOLHOTLex and one of the original developers of SOLHOT. Her lecture explored her research and the creation and development of SOLHOTLex in Kentucky.

Wednesday 2/24

We Are The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For
Black Girl Genius Open Mic
Featuring Denise Maurice, Jade Williams, Cii La’Cole, Rayven Morrow, Kamau Grantham a.k.a. DJ KamauMau, Homegirls&Handgrenades and Klevah
11AM-2PM
Link Gallery at the School of Art & Design

Wednesday’s event, Black Girl Genius Open Mic, was well attended and drew enthusiastic crowd participation despite the in-climate weather. The event featured artists Denise Maurice, Jade Williams, Cii La’Cole, Raven Morrow, Kamau Grantham a.k.a. DJ KamauMau, Homegirls&Handgrenades and Klevah as well as crowd participants who shared their art, music and poetry. There was also a discussion regarding the struggles of being a black girl on campus.

Thursday 2/25

Toward A World Black Girls Deserve
A conversation between Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown
12-2PM
Gender & Women’s Studies

Due to travel difficulties, Thursday’s event was changed to a conversation between Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown. The speakers shared personal experiences and stories about dealing with racism and sexism and also touched on relationships and self worth. The session ended with a poignant audience-led discussion about relationships and the personal significance of Black Girl Genius Week.

Friday 2/26

(Not Pictured)
Black Girls Are From The Future: Teach In
Regina Jarman, University of Maryland, College Park

Followed by a Black Girl Genius Week Pre-Party
Featuring DJ Lynnee Denise

Hosted by Dr. Eric Pritchard and Sesali Bowen
11AM-2PM
Link Gallery at the School of Art & Design

Friday began with a discussion between Regina Jarman, Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown hosted by Dr. Eric Pritchard and Sesali Brown. Following the conversation was a Black Girl Genius Week pre-party featuring DJ Lynnee Denise that led up to the weekend performances.

Black Girl Genius Hip Hop Concert + Dance Party
Hosted by Sesali Bowen
Featuring Sammus, T.R.U.T.H., We Levitate, Klevah and DJ Lynnee Denise
9PM-1AM
Cafeteria & Co. - Pizza M

Friday night was high-energy a celebration of black musicians sharing their craft. Performances by artists Sammus, T.R.U.T.H., We Levitate, Klevah and DJ Lynnee Denise kept the crowd moving and engaged throughout the evening.

Saturday 2/27

YWCA Presents
All Ages Black Girl Genius Concert
Featuring Sammus, Mother Nature, We Levitate, Klevah and Homegirls&Handgrenades
2-4PM
Cafeteria & Co. - Pizza M

The final performance of Black Girl Genius Week did not disappoint. Sponsored by the YWCA, the all ages Black Girl Genius concert displayed the talents of Sammus, Mother Nature, We Levitate and Homegirls&Handguns. Many children in attendance also made their way on stage to perform.

Week Long

(Not Pictured)
SOLHOT
Franklin Middle School

As an additional part of Black Girl Genius week, events and presentations were held for students at Franklin Middle School every day after school as part of SOLHOT.

Photos by Tyler Courtney, Scott Wells and Stephan Kemp.

About Tyler Courtney:

Tyler is a graphic designer and photographer who specializes in sports, music, and event photography. Contact him directly or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

About Scott Wells:

Scott is a U.S. Navy veteran and a graduate of the University of Illinois. He has been a photographer and writer for Smile Politely since March of 2015.

About Stephen Kemp:

Stephen is an IT manager for the University of Illinois and has been a photographer for Smile Politely since 2015. Find his photography on Facebook or contact him directly via email.