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Vashti Dubois created a museum and a safe haven for young black girls in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Picture: Erica Hawkins.
Vashti Dubois created a museum and a safe haven for young black girls in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Picture: Erica Hawkins.

The Colored Girls Museum in Germantown is offering virtual summer programs to young Black girls in podcasting and career development

Founder Vashti Dubois said guiding the youth is a two-way street. “They are teaching us too.”

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Every artifact and picture displayed in a museum has a story to tell.

But, The Colored Girls Museum isn’t just another museum, it is a safe space provided by the executive director and founder, Vashti Dubois for young Black girls in the Germantown area to talk about the history and conversations that are welcomed without judgment or fear.

Dubois wanted to create a sanctuary that represented her community.

“To me, this is an opportunity to create a space for all of us to consider what happened, what the historical significance of Black girlhood is in the world, in the country in our lives, and in our communities,” she said.

On that note, Dubois is also taking the initiative to educate and encourage young Black girls to know more about their culture.

“For a very long time, since college, I really wanted to create spaces where we could be in community with one another, and have that feeling of sanctuary and sacred space where we are able to be in conversation with the things that are significant to our experiences as women and girls of African Diaspora in this country,” she said.

She also wants them to thrive with various technological innovations and learn more about storytelling and art, so they can thrive in the workforce.

“We want to expose these young women to the idea that we are always choosing our adventure every day, we are just not cognizant that we are doing it,” she said.

Another interest that Dubois would like to see local youth dig into is archival work. 

“There is a physical Philadelphia archive just like there is that traditional family archive,” said Dubois. “That shoebox that almost everybody has and is filled with old photographs, but now we have all of that on our phones. We just really want to show how important our community history is.”

As a city that is blended with various cultures, Black history is a vital part of Philadelphia and Dubois continues to show locals stories that are unheard. 

One in particular, is about a doctor’s bag.

“This bag was submitted to the daughter of a doctor and when he retired, one of his daughters became a doctor as well. She was actually killed by her spouse during a domestic dispute,” she said. “The person gave us this bag because of the significance to the family in terms of what their work was as physicians. The bag also represents in a sense, a cure to the museum.”

The museum, which also doubles as Dubois’ home, where she raised her children, currently isn’t open due to COVID-19 restrictions.

But she is still initiating a free summer program for young Black girls to dive into art and technology.

“The new name is called North Stars, a girl’s guide to the galaxy,” said Dubois. “This year we are working with girls through 7-11th grade to work on their own podcast and build their own adventure.” 

The summer program begins on April 24, but Dubois and her team are actively searching for participants now.

It will be on Saturdays for eight weeks. There is also a two-week boot camp, and it will all be virtual.

On top of learning how to podcast, the girls will also be able to explore new career paths.

“We want our program to just have utility in a girl’s life without beating them over the head with it,” she said.It also isn’t just a one-way street.

“They are teaching us too,” said Dubois.

For more information on The Colored Girls Museum, check out their website.

They also currently have an off-site exhibit at Slought in West Philadelphia.

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