Community efforts in the Southern Sector of Dallas were readily in full force. One event in particular focused on girl power and restoring young black girls’ ‘magic.’ On Saturday August 18, 2018, Nia Khepera hosted a panel of influential women. The event was so accurately dubbed “Brilliant & Beautiful: Girls Empowerment Movement (GEM).”
The conference housed a myriad of the most radiant hues of macaroon to the warmest browns—all female students ranging from elementary to high school. The girls were all accompanied by mothers, aunts, and other female guardians. GEM kicked off with an opening word by Council Member Casey Thomas (District 3), followed by the pouring of libations, a full-on meet and greet (involving every member of the panel and audience), and community sponsored raffles.
GEM’s panel consisted of Michelle Jones, Dr. Alison Jones, Jennifer Stimpson, and Nia Maat Khepera. Each panelist took time to deliver a specially crafted presentation to the girls, complete with interactive activities. Issues discussed ranged from confidence and brand building, to emotional/spiritual/physical healing, and African centered history—including ancestral appreciation, and ended with a tribute to Aretha Franklin. This celebration went far beyond a back to school rally, it was a step towards community building and inciting hope.
Additionally, a honorable mention has to be given to one of the most notable back to school event this weekend, the Oak Cliff Back to School Festival at Gendale Park hosted by For Oak Cliff. It was here that the greatly praised rapper J. Cole made an appearance. Cole was in town to perform his concert at the American Airlines Center that night, but took time out of his schedule to drop by the very Oak Cliff area he shouted out in a freestyle days prior to. Once amongst the crowd, the esteemed rapper took numerous pictures and shook hands with every kid. As all these students ready themselves for the first day of school, I’m sure the stories of this past weekend will ring through the halls.