Sherrilyn Ifill's Big Idea: Stop Stereotyping Girls

“Stop imposing stereotypes on girls,” says Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Sharing her Big Idea about women at the Festival, Ifill reminds us that this year marks the sixtieth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling and the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Yet, she laments, so few of us realize the extraordinary role that girls played in bringing these civil rights gains to bear. Today, girls are being stifled. “What we see increasingly with African American girls is that they’re being told to shut up, and sit down, and pull down their skirts, and not speak up,” says Ifill. This pervasive treatment, she says, tamps down the spirits of girls who might otherwise rise up to be the future Barbara Motens and Linda Browns of the 21st century. “Stop imposing stereotypes on girls, on African American girls... And let’s see what kind of women they can become.”

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