“It’s an amazing experience. The energy of the girls is just something that is unmatched. It feels like a marathon over the day, but with positive, great energy all day long,” Rosa Thompson, the founder of the Black Girl Magic Conference, tells Madison365.
Over 600 African American girls from grades 4-8 will come together Thursday, May 26 at Madison College Truax for an inspirational and empowering day-long retreat at the 5th annual Black Girl Magic Conference. That’s a far cry from the first-ever Black Girl Magic Conference held back in 2018 started with just 80 students.
“Honestly, when I first started I thought it was gonna be like a one-time thing … something fun to do with the girls who were attending and I never thought past like 2018,” Thompson says.
The Black Girl Magic Conference is a day of fun, networking, sisterhood and mentoring as young Black women connect with local Black women leaders to inspire and uplift one another. The conference will feature a morning fitness class to energize the girls when they arrive, dynamic breakout sessions led by industry leaders, community partners and entrepreneurs and a DJ spinning songs throughout.
“One of my favorite things is when the girls get off the bus, and they come in, and they’re just so excited and they’re really happy to be there,” says Thompson, executive director of Black Girl Magic Educational Services Inc. “And then they’re seeing girls from other schools that they know and it’s just like a great feeling to see just so many of our girls so excited to be in the building. So we’re really looking forward to that.”
The Black Girl Magic Conference continued during the pandemic virtually, but nothing matches the in-person event.
“We came together virtually [the last few years], but it’s just it’s not the same. You know, we tried to replicate that same energy and we had DJs and we had a really good time, but it’s not the same as being able to see everybody’s faces and being in the same space,” Thompson says. “So we’re really, really excited to be back at Madison College. It’s the perfect space for us. It’s pretty much empty because there’s no classroom or classes going on now. So we just pretty much take over the space … and so we love it.”
The 5th annual Black Girl Magic Conference will feature a variety of local Black professional women who will share their insights with the girls including:
◉ “Black Girls Matter: What’s Your Story?” will be presented by Capital Times (and former Madison365) reporter Angelica Euseary who will host a session discussing the importance of accurate representations of Black girls and women in the news. Girls will be introduced to concepts from Critical Media Pedagogy that will encourage them to actively read credible news sources and view them as sites of learning. The girls will also write an article about themselves with a headline and byline, answering the questions of who they are, who they want to be and where they come from.
◉ “A-maze-ing SpheroBot Race – How Robots Move” will be presented by Dr. Christina Outlay.
In this session, we’ll teach you how to program tiny Sphero robots to move through a maze the same way these companies make their robots work. The team whose SpheroBot finishes the maze first will win a prize!
◉ “Courageous Conflict Resolution: Brilliant Black Girl Steps to Success” will be presented by Keena Atkinson.
In this session, girls will learn how to process and resolve conflict in a brave, healthy and courageous way. They will learn self-advocacy, assertiveness and accountability and practice scenarios with peers
◉ “The History of Dance” will be presented by Kyra Johnson
Johnson is the founder and executive director of KLJ Movement Inc, a non-profit dance company that uplifts culture in the community, empowers artists in their creative expression and provides various performance opportunities for dancers. In her session, students will engage in a physical learning experience of hip hop dance, explore the history of hip hop and learn a short combination of choreography.
“One thing that I really enjoy is being able to connect with Black women in the community and other Black women-run organizations,” Thompson says. “We’re so excited to be partnering with Maydm’s Christina Outlay. She’ll be in the building leading some robotics sessions and this is probably like the fourth time we’re partnering with her this year. So we’re excited. And she always brings a great session for the girls.
“We’re excited to have Angelica [Euseary]. I reached out to her because we always have something about Black girls in the media, and really digging into the way that Black girls and black women are represented in the media and thinking critically about what we see, what that narrative is and how it reflects on us as Black women and girls,” she adds. “We have Dr. Jasmine Zapata leading a session. She has been at every one of our Black Girl Magic Conferences including the one we just held in Verona. She’s everywhere with us and we love her. And Keena Atkinson is back and will be leading a session on conflict resolution. I think it’s important to focus on the health and wellness of our bodies and Keena makes it really fun.”
This year’s keynote speaker will be Kheris Rogers, an entrepreneur, fashion designer and CEO of the widely popular brand, Flexin’ In My Complexion. Born in Los Angeles, Kheris started her brand after years of being bullied in school because of her dark skin complexion. Her story has been televised by NBC, CBS, and The Steve Harvey Show; and celebrities including Whoopi Goldberg, Lupita N’yongo and Alicia Keys have all sported styles from Kheris’ clothing line.
“I love the keynote speaker. We always get dynamic women. And this time we have a young woman and this is our first time getting somebody from outside of the Madison community,” Thompson says. “She will be talking about colorism within the Black community and how that affects us no matter what skin tone you are.”
The event is loaded with speakers and activities.
“Yes, it’s loaded and I think we have a couple more that we’re going to be adding because you know I started out with wanting 500 [girls] and we filled up so quickly that we were able to expand to 600,” Thompson says. “So we just need a few more sessions to make sure that our girls aren’t crowded in there, but, you know, we’ll make it work. We’re really excited.”
The goal of the Black Girl Magic Conference to celebrate and inspire intelligent Black girls has blossomed into an annual event where the girls cannot wait to connect with each other after a year away from each other. This year, especially, because of the long layoff from the pandemic.
“I love seeing the girls, especially the girls that I’ve taught, and seeing them grow up or girls from year to year.,” Thompson says. “And now that we’ve been doing year-round programming, it’s so great to see them in their element at school because we usually you know, they just come to us. So seeing them come together and interact with each other … it’s just really fun to watch.”
The Fifth Annual Black Girl Magic Conference will be held Thursday, May 26 at Madison College’s Truax Campus. To register, click here.
There are still a variety of volunteer opportunities available throughout the day on May 26th. From greeting the girls as they arrive at the conference to escorting groups throughout Madison College, check out our volunteer opportunities and sign up here.