Boulder middle school students create “Black Women Who Made History” coloring book – Boulder Daily Camera

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Ask most people for inspiring historical figures and you probably won’t hear the name of Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman astronaut.

Or Dr. Alexa Canady, the first African-American female neurosurgeon. Then there’s Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman – and the first Native American – to hold a pilot’s license.

Maddie Armstrong and Sophie Jones, eighth grade students at Platt Middle School in Boulder, also didn’t know their stories when they started looking for notable black women for a Girl Scout project. Now that they do, they want to introduce other young people to the often unrecognized contributions of black women by sharing 10 of their stories through a coloring book.

In honor of Black History Month, 2,300 copies of their “Black Women Who Made History Coloring Book are available free of charge for schools and businesses.

“We wanted to include women whose stories are not taught in school,” Sophie said. “We want to educate more people about these amazing women.”

As they started working on the coloring book to win the Girl Scout Silver Award, they quickly exceeded the required 50 hours. They spent approximately 120 hours each on the project, working with the Boulder Youth Opportunities Advisory Committee, the Boulder NAACP, the Boulder Valley School District and local graphic designer Hannah Tuell. They also received a grant from the Boulder Human Relations Commission.

“It became a community project,” Maddie said.

To get the girls started, Lexmark printed their first 300 copies for free. For the rest, they found Creative Solutions, a black-owned business in Aurora. The donations covered the printing costs.

They have distributed the first 300 copies and will be delivering more copies locally for free or by mail for postage. If requested, they will include multicultural Crayola pencils, with colors representing a variety of skin tones. They have received around 1,000 requests for books so far.

Coloring books are also available as Downloadable PDF.

Maddie and Sophie started their search for notable black women on Wikipedia, then did more research to confirm the facts and add details. For the pictures, they used a drawing app to describe photos of the women they found online. Pictures related to each woman’s profession help younger students recognize their accomplishments without needing to read the text.

The idea to feature black women came from talking to black friends about their experiences in Boulder and school, as well as a desire to do more after participating in a Black Lives Matter walk.

“We’ve seen people racially profiling our friends,” Maddie said.

Sophie added that their black friends took the time to let them know about their experiences, while members of the NAACP and the Youth Opportunities Advisory Board helped them write and design the coloring book.

“We want to educate people so that our friends don’t have to carry this weight,” she said. “We are certainly not experts in this matter. We continue to learn. We are learning more and more and improving our project through feedback.

They said they were struggling to narrow their project down to just 10 black women and wanted to create at least one more coloring book so they could showcase more.

“These women are such an inspiration,” Sophie said.


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