When talking with children about civil rights and the brave and bold activists who worked tirelessly for change, it's hard to know if your message is truly getting through. One mom, Cristi Smith-Jones of Kent, Washington, decided to not only teach her daughter Lola about these icons, but also help her become them. Photos of this amazing 5-year-old girl transforming into iconic black women heroes have gone viral as her priceless expressions capture the heart and soul of these pioneers.
Smith-Jones explains how the monthlong project evolved.
"Lola began learning about slavery and civil rights last month, and it seemed to segue into Black History Month," she tells CafeMom. "I wanted a fun and engaging way to teach her about women who opened doors for us today, and hoped to inspire her."
Finding items from around the house, the creative mom captured many of these stunning photos on her phone -- but also found help from her friend and photographer Kayleigh Stefanko of Kayleigh Stefanko Photography for others. Thankfully, Lola was a willing participant.
"She loves to play dress up and wear costumes, so I thought that transforming her into amazing and notable black women would get her excited to learn about them. And we get to pay tribute to their legacies as well," Smith-Jones explains.
What a smart and innovative concept. And the metamorphoses are just unbelievable.
Jones explains that one of her favorite shots is of Lola as Fannie Lou Hamer, "because of how well she portrayed her emotion. I was moved by that one," the proud mom tells CafeMom.
Her other favorite? Poet, professor, activist, and commentator Nikki Giovanni. "Just because I love that photo of her," says Jones.
So how did the adorable girl -- who seems to possess the qualities of a chameleon (in the best possible way) -- feel about the undertaking?
"Lola is very much a performer at home, but is shy and quiet in public. It's been strange for her to be getting extra attention, but I don't think she really understands the scope of the attention she's gotten. She thinks it's cool to see herself, but she's really just her normal self, unfazed by it all," her mom says.
We could definitely see Lola having a career in acting. In the photo below she poses as Mildred Loving, who was recently played by actress Ruth Negga in the film Loving (for which Negga received an Academy Award nomination).
The kindergartner also depicted Ruby Bridges, the first black child to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School.
What an amazing tribute to these empowering women. This is no doubt a lesson in history and courage that Lola and her rapt audience of adoring viewers will never forget.