This Young Girl Dressed Up As 28 Iconic Figures For Black History Month, And The Photos Are So Good

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In celebration of Black History Month every February since 2017, Seattle resident Cristi Smith-Jones has posted daily photos to Twitter of her daughter, Lola, celebrating Black history and culture by dressing up as important Black figures from history and re-creating images from culturally important works of art and literature.

Smith-Jones told CNN in 2017 that the idea sprouted when then-5-year-old Lola came home from kindergarten and told her parents what she had learned about civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., in school. The savvy parents were inspired to find a fun way for their daughter to connect to history on a deeper level. They decided to use Lola’s love of dress-up, and Smith-Jones’ photo project launched on the first day of Black History Month in 2017 with a photo of her daughter dressed as Nina Simone.

In 2017, the series focused on important Black women exclusively — from the first Black female astronaut, Dr. Mae Jemison, to poet Gwendolyn Brooks and Rosa Parks.

Here she is in 2017 as ballerina Misty Copeland, the first Black woman to be promoted to principal dancer in American Ballet Theatre’s history:

Starting in 2018, Smith-Jones switched it up slightly. She and Lola started honoring Black men in addition to women, and they put a focus on the products of Black culture such as books, plays, paintings and poems, dressing Lola up as characters from works of art as well as real people.

Here she is dressed as Shuri from “Black Panther”:

She kept up with the photos series in 2018 and 2019, and in 2020, Smith-Jones resurrected it for the first two days of February.

On Feb. 1, she tweeted her daughter styled as pop icon Janet Jackson as a child, whom she has been told Lola resembles a younger version of, and Feb. 2 paid tribute to Mamie Smith.

On Feb. 3, Smith-Jones tweeted to let her followers know that she may not be continuing to share photo recreations, but she would still share photos and stories highlighting Black culture on a daily basis throughout the month. She also noted that she would have some exciting news to share soon:

In 2021, the news was out — Smith-Jones partnered with Rochelle Riley to create a book, “That They Lived: African Americans Who Changed The World,” that features those photos of Lola paired with inspiring figures from Black history along with similar images of Riley’s grandson, Caleb. The book’s goal, according to the publisher, is “To teach children on the cusp of puberty that they could be anything they aspired to be, that every famous person was once a child who, in some cases, overcame great obstacles to achieve.”

The book is out Feb. 2.

It’s been exciting to see how this project has evolved!