Girls and Mothers from Westchester, Long Island, Brooklyn, Long Island, and Hudson Valley joined at Mt. Vernon Public Library Let Girls Learn Day with incitement. “Let Girls Learn Day is merely about believing that we as a community have to help our girls forge their way in the world,” shared Cynthia Turnquest-Jones. In 2015, Michelle Obama pioneered this initiative #letgirlslearn. She recognized that adolescent girls face multiple challenges in pursuing an education, Let Girls Learn employs a holistic approach to change the perception of the value of girls at the individual, community, and institutional levels; foster an enabling environment for adolescent girls’ education; and engage and equip girls to make life decisions and important contributions to society.
The vision is to expose girls to women of excellence. The mission is to make a ripple in the minds of impressionable girls who will become leaders of tomorrow. Cynthia shares that social media and television play a major role in shaping the minds of your young girls. “It is appalling to see how our Black and Brown sisters are portrayed. Let Girls Learn unmask the excellency in our community to our girls at arm’s length.” Cynthia hosted the first “Let Girls Learn Day” in 2017, partnering with Mount Vernon Public Library. Girls in grades 1-6 were invited to the library to engage with women from different careers and cultures who shared the importance of education and reading.
Celebrating Women is embedded in the month of May, organizations and Church’s create agendas where women in our communities are honored and noted for the modern-day Ester they portray. Cynthia was asked by the community director, Cathy Webb to add on another day for girls ages 13-17 to attend. “With our 13-17 year-olds, I pitched the idea to Cathy to incorporate a know your rights segment plus bullying conversations. Inviting honorable women from our community was not a challenge.” DD Wright is an author who captured poems about bullying. As an educator for over fifteen years, DD Wright captures the attention of our girls through written words and self-publishing over three books. Shawyn Patterson-Howard currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the YMCA of Yonkers where she continues to use her influence to serve the community. DJ Jazzy Joyce has been a pioneer in the game for over thirty years. She has witnessed the transition of Hip-Hop from its inception to the present day. As 13-year-old who was in clubs feeding the people music she understands the benefits of letting Girls Learn.
Cupcakes were provided by Cupcake Cutie Boutique, owned by Miesha Stokely and Montika Jones. Miesha attended college in Miami, studying to become a nurse she decided to make cupcakes in college and sell them while living in the dorms. This helped with the cost of books and extra spending money. After she graduated she shared her newly found passion with Mom. Baking together became a household culture and Mom started to become a part of the dream as well. Montika Jones was born and raised in the City of Mt. Vernon where she has served the community as a detective for thirteen years. Both joined the other women to share their experiences. Detective Montika Jones spoke to the Girls about “Knowing Their Rights.”
During the two-day workshop Girls from 100Sisters shared knowledge with one another about toxic ingredients in slime and earned Rhythm and Soul gifted tickets to attend the Universal Soul Circus. While listening to music by DJ Jazzy Joyce, Girls actively worked on a placemat with word puzzles and word scrambles, provided by The Social Butterfly. Priscilla Echi, founder of The Social Butterfly who has also been around music, and fashion for over 20 years joined Let Girls Learn for the second year. She deciphers that Let Girls Learn Day is embedded with teaching self-love, equating to a revolution. In the climate of being aware of police brutality and street brutality, Cynthia understands that it is important for the Girls to comprehend their rights. ACLU provided the “Know Your Rights” business cards for girls to place in their wallets and whistles were provided for them to carry in case of an emergency.
“Girls simply enjoyed themselves while learning and received love from adults who champion three words Let Girls Learn.” Cynthia Turnquest-Jones, founder Tha Brown Urban Mother Partnership
Mount Vernon Public Library welcomed Girls with open arms. Tha Brown Urban Mother Partnership captures “Let Girls Learn Day” through testimony from guests, girls, and photos.
Fabiola Gonçalves and her daughter Honoree journeyed across the Tapan Zee Bridge, made slime and addressed the mothers & daughters. Fabiola stated, “I am back in America from Morocco and was a part of the Michelle Obama #letgirlslearn initiative. What we did in Morocco was focus on Girls who are marginalized and started an American school that was out of the Casa Blanca region.”
“Let Girls Learn Day was an event that not only girls benefit from but women. To empower is to enable and inspire learning. Not only did my daughter learn but I did as well. I am certain the future was touched. The energy was the proof!” Author DD Wright
“I thought that it was an inspirational experience. I did like the experiments. I also learned that no matter what I can be my own person and no one can take my education away from me.” Kyra Ramsey, Student Brooklyn, NY
“It’s beautiful to see events like Let Girls Learn at our Mount Vernon Public Library. With leaders in our community like Cynthia and other women I am confident that our girls have role models to look up to and learn from.” -Malcolm Clarke, MVPL Trustee
“I loved Let Girls Learn Day because I learned about my rights in regards to police and about bullying and adult bullying. I thought it was really cool that I met an author and got to pick out a free book to add to my collection. Oh! I love the crafting jars that was cool too!” -Skylar, Student Performing and Visual Arts Magnet school in Mount Vernon, NY
“I like the books and that I got to meet an author and learn about police bullying and my rights from the detective.” -Mimi, Student at Performing and Visual Arts Magnet school in Mount Vernon, NY
“Let Girls Learn Day 2018 was by far one of the greatest experiences of my life! To see so many melanated girls, of various ages, family dynamics, financial situations, interests, and dreams, come together to have fun, learn and push the agenda that girls want to learn and when given adequate attention, thrive in whatever environment they are in, was an absolutely beautiful thing to witness. My daughter Usha, just 17 months of age, enjoyed herself thoroughly. And for me to place her in that setting, at that age, seeing a black girl as a DJ, a black girl as the host and organizer, and just surrounded by girls who look like her, is something that I’m certain she’ll cherish for years to come. I’m eagerly looking forward to attending Let Girls Learn Day in 2019 and beyond!” Author Sugar Ray
“I have always envied my mom for raising two very strong women in my sister and I. With that said I really tried to tap into everything my mother taught us before she passed away. Let Girls Learn embodies the empowerment my mother instilled in us that education would be the foundation for everything we would need to be successful in life. To watch teen girls really be engaged in what they were doing was and is inspiring.” Cathlin Gleason MVPL Trustee
“Auntie TJ had us making volcanoes out of lemons. This made me understand what a volcano may look like and what it does when it erupts.” -Isis, Student The Walt Disney School, Bronx, NY
“Mothers took time to bring their daughters out for Let Girls Learn Day. We were part of a greater movement of ensuring our Girls have a fair chance to become successful women.” -Felicia Barnes, Mother
“It was wonderful to see so many shades of beautiful and smart brown girls sharing a moment of intellect. I was amazed my some of the things they knew and how open they were to learn more. It put my mind at ease to know that these young ladies are the future and that they have a bright future ahead. I can’t wait to see what “Let Girls Learn” has in store for the coming years and where will Cynthia Turnquest-Jones has in store for all our brown-skinned girls. It is said, “If you educate a man, you educate one person. If you educate a woman, you educate a nation”. Let us continue to help let girls learn so our nation is unstoppable.” -Tanisha Burgess, Make-up Artist