Source: iOne Creative, Getty / iOne Creative


Dear Graduates of Bethune-Cookman:

First, congratulations! We are so proud of what you have accomplished. You have studied, prepared, planned, learned, and have earned what our parents, grandparents, and ancestors have had to fight, scrape, and die for in this nation. We are proud of you for that!

Beyond becoming graduates, we are floating this morning thinking about how you stood up to your university and protested the woefully under-qualified Secretary of Education who attempted to address you at your graduation yesterday. Watching you stand and turn your backs to her makes us elated. Overjoyed. Humbled. It was a day and a moment that should have been about celebrating you and what you achieved.

The world watched you protest the speaker you never should have had. We cheered as we saw so many of you refuse to acquiesce in the face of threats and calls for complicity. Your actions fit within a long tradition of Black people fighting back against those who attack our institutions and our very lives with their anti-Black policies and anglo-normative practices. Betsy DeVos’ commitment to dismantling public education and her egregious framing of historically Black colleges and universities as “pioneers” in school choice are just two examples of why she should never have been invited to speak at an event celebrating Black excellence.

Read full letter and see the 216 signatories at Cassius


Call for Submissions

A Photo Memoir 


In September 2016, I launched “Professional Black Girl” – an original web series created to celebrate everyday Black girlhood and womanhood. Within moments of its debut, it became “a thing.” In the days, weeks, and months that followed, in addition to receiving thousands of online views, the project inspired thousands of social media posts (#ProfessionalBlackGirl) from Black women and girls the world over. Even without a categorical definition of who or what exactly a Professional Black Girl is, as we watched the series, we saw ourselves; and as we saw ourselves, we celebrated.

In an effort to continue our celebration and further memorialize our magic, I am collaborating with iconic street photographer, Jamel Shabazz and visual artist, Adama Delphine Fawundu to create a photo memoir that will visually document Black girl culture – a culture that is both unapologetically Black and unmistakably Black girl (yes, that Black and that girl). I am also collaborating with some of my favorite Professional Black Girl writers to produce the words and essays that will accompany the photographs.

If you are a photographer who has already documented the quintessential look and feel of Black Girl magic, or if you are interested in doing so, we invite you to submit work for consideration.


Dr. Yaba Blay
Creator & Producer, Professional Black Girl

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Who Can Submit

Photographers based in the U.S. and abroad.
*This is not a call for personal photographs. We will extend an invitation for personal photographs in the near future.


Two types of work will be considered for the project:

  1. Pre-existing work that has not been previously published in a printed form (online publications are fine)
  2. New work created specifically for the project

Please note that only original photographs taken by the photographer submitting images will be considered.

In order for your submission to be considered complete, please forward ALL of the items below.


  1. Write your NAME and PROFESSIONAL BLACK GIRL in the SUBJECT LINE of your submission.
  2. Please attach 5-10 web formatted jpeg images
    No smaller that 5 x 7 in. (72 dpi)
    No larger than 11 x 14 in. (72 dpi)
  3. Files should be named “lastname_firstname1.jpg.” “lastname_firstname2.jpg” etc.
  4. In the body of the email, please include the following inventory for each photograph:

a. Filename
b. Title of Photograph
c. Name/s (or Alias/es) of girls/women featured in the photograph
d. Location of the photograph
e. Date (year) of the photograph
f. If possible please include personal information about the photograph’s subject(s): personal interests, birthplace, occupation, pastimes, personality, etc…

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We are interested in photographs that convey the following (but not limited to):
Street Photography

Forward submissions and questions to:

LIFELINE: March 15, 2017

All photographs Copyright (c) Jamel Shabazz