Janine Harper and Marc Bushelle’s photo series of their daughter Lily dressed up as different African-American heroines started as a Black History Month project. After Code Switch reported on it, media outlets across the country picked up on the story, including the Huffington Post, Buzzfeed and the HLN network, and families have reached out to the couple expressing support and encouragement.
Bushelle says “the popularity of this project has been very encouraging” and that the powerful impact the series has had on their 5-year-old daughter has inspired them to continue the series.
Throughout February, Lily was photographed as writer Toni Morrison, U.S. Navy Adm. Michelle Howard, international model Grace Jones and others. This month, the family decided to venture into the political arena with congresswoman and activist Shirley Chisholm. In 1968, she became the first African-American woman elected to Congress and launched a historic presidential campaign in 1972. Staging Lily’s stuffed animals as supporters, the 5-year-old throws up the peace sign in the same fashion as Chisholm often did during her presidential campaign tour.
The latest photo in the series features rapper, actress and entrepreneur Queen Latifah, often hailed as one of the most innovative and instrumental female rappers of all time. In this photo, Lily depicts the cover of Queen Latifah’s 1991 album Nature of A Sista. In preparation for the shoot, Harper and Bushelle had Lily watch the artist’s video for the Grammy-winning song U.N.I.T.Y., and explained the general principles behind the lyrics. The couple says they’re motivated to look beyond traditional heroines to impressive figures in science, politics and arts.
Who will Lily be next? Bushelle isn’t giving any hints about the next photo, but says it will be a “fun surprise.”