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A little Black girl's art is being displayed in the White House: 'Enslaved Africans built this'

Nine-year-old Gabrielle Faisal won the White House Historical Association's national student art competition in celebration of its 60th anniverary.

A little Black girl's art is being displayed in the White House: 'Enslaved Africans built this'
Image Source: wellreadblkgirl / Twitter

Third-grader Gabrielle Faisal, aged nine, took home the top prize in the White House Historical Association's national student art competition earlier this week. This year, the competition ran the theme "The White House: An American Story." The little Black girl's interpretation of the theme was creative and powerful, featuring a pair of Black hands in shackles holding the White House in its palms. In the background, she painted the United States flag. Each element of Gabrielle's artwork is symbolic and represents a different aspect of justice. The nine-year-old was only one of 500 contestants who took part in the competition, Good Morning America reports.


"The White House is a symbol of America that was built by enslaved African Americans," she explained in an interview with the news outlet. "The red stripes symbolize our struggle for freedom. The white stripes symbolize the purity of our struggle. Blue is the symbol of justice for all people no matter what color. The stars represent the unity of all people coming together. The shackled hands are the hands of enslaved Africans who built the White House." It is fitting, then, that the artwork by Gabrielle is entitled "Enslaved African Americans Built the White House."


The nine-year-old from Detroit, Michigan, explained that she was inspired to create her powerful piece as a result of what she had learned during her history lessons in school as well as the information her father has shared with her. Gabrielle affirmed, "I was inspired to paint this picture because of the history I read and learned from my father." In a video uploaded to YouTube, Stewart McLaurin, the President of the White House Historical Association, appreciate all those who submitted entries to the competition and recognized the White House as more than just a home for the United States President. "This celebrated building has been shaped by countless people, including First Families, enslaved workers, innovative staff, and the American public," he stated. "Our greatest thanks goes out to the students, teachers, and parents who helped make this wonderful program possible by sharing and celebrating their own appreciation for White House history."


The little girl's artwork will be on display at the White House until September 22. In addition to her piece, competitors from Gabrielle's age bracket, as well as art from the top three winners in the fourth to eighth and ninth to 12th grade-level categories, will be featured. All participants who were awarded first-place prizes across age categories also won $1,000 each. The competition, officially recognized by the social initiative The American250 Foundation, was hosted as part of the 60th-anniversary celebrations of the White House Historical Association. The America250 Foundation is officially designated by the United States Semiquincentennial Commission to honor America's 250th Independence Day.


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