‘Black Girls of UConn’ campaign looks to promote sisterhood

The National Council of Negro Women launched a campaign at UConn to encourage solidarity among an underrepresented demographic. (Courtesy/NCNW UConn)

The National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) recently launched a photo campaign at the University of Connecticut called “Black Girls of UConn” to encourage solidarity among an underrepresented demographic.

“Our campaign is centered around shifting our forgotten narrative and humanizing our experience as both women and black people,” NCNW interim president and eighth-semester student Wambui Gatheru said. “We want to inspire, uplift and promote sisterhood through this campaign.”

Students can find the photo campaign on Instagram, @ncnw_uconn, and on Facebook, @uconnncnw.

The campaign is similar to that of “Humans of New York.” Students working with the NCNW interview black women at UConn about their experiences attending a primarily white university, Gatheru said.

The NCNW remains one of the oldest black women organizations in America. Mary McLeod Bethune, a child of slave parents, founded the organization more than 80 years ago. The organization holds the same mission as it did years ago, according to NCNW.

“Black women still need a unified voice to address the economic, social, cultural and spiritual needs of their families and communities,” NCNW national chair and president Ingrid Saunders Jones said.

UConn is one of over 200 chapters within the NCNW, Gatheru said.

“At UConn, our chapter focuses on education, community service, advocacy and empowerment,” Gatheru said.

Gatheru said she and many others within the organization find the timing of the campaign especially necessary due to America’s current political climate.

In this past 2016 election, while 94 percent of black women voted for Clinton, 53 percent of white women voted for Trump, according to the NY Times.

“Black women, for centuries, have been the loyal supporters of various social movements of many groups, dating back to the white suffragette movement, to the current “Women’s March” protests; all of which centered around the experiences of privileged white women’s feminism,” Gatheru said.

The photo campaign started as an idea proposed by NCNW public relations director and sixth-semester student Alleyha Dannett, Gatheru said.

”I think right now with the political and social climate and how it has changed post-election, it is essential that a sense of community is fostered with truthful solidarity for those that are marginalized,” Dannett said.

Under the current U.S. administration, black women face a disadvantage as they have historically, Dannett said.

Dannett has been working on the logistics of the campaign, along with creative event coordinator and eighth-semester student Christina Beliard. Together, they are in charge of interviewing the subjects, shooting the photos and uploading the photos onto the group’s social media pages, Gatheru said.

“I feel as though this project allows for us to reclaim some of our agency and grab ahold of our narratives in a genuine manner,” Dannett said. “Discussing what our joys look like, what our resilience looks like, what our pain looks like and where we truly feel it stems from, rather than having people constantly try to tell us who we are and their perception of our struggles.”

This project serves as an honest way to reaffirm humanity and defiance for all black women, Dannett said.

“We want this campaign to continue on long after we graduate, and we want it to be a staple that other incoming black women can look to for inspiration and community when they come to UConn,” Gatheru said.


Emma DeGrandi is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at emma.degrandi@uconn.edu.