A nine-year-old Detroit girl, who entered a White House student art competition with a drawing inspired by African-American history, emerged the ultimate winner after edging over 500 competitors.
Titled “Enslaved African Americans Built the White House”, the talented Gabrielle Faisal’s symbolic painting features two huge, shackled, Black hands holding the White House with the American flag in the background.
Explaining the meaning behind her work to FOX 2 Detroit, the young artist said the “Black hands holding the White House” means “enslaved Africans built the White House.”
“The white stripes represent the purity of the struggle,” Gabrielle added. “The blue means justice and the white stars represent the unity for all people.”
The organizers of the White House History Association’s National Student Art Competition were looking out for originality, interpretation and historical relevancy from the artworks that were submitted from the hundreds of entries. And it appears Gabrielle’s painting had those elements.
Gabrielle’s father, Rashid, also said his daughter’s choice of art came naturally as she was inspired by things she had learned about African-American history. “I have a library, home library is filled with books on African-American history, Blacks who were part of building the White House. So for her, when it came to time to do art, it was just organic for her,” Rashid revealed.
And though the family knew Gabrielle’s painting had been shortlisted in the top 10, they said they were unaware she had placed first in her age bracket until it was announced online. Besides winning a $1,000 cash prize, Gabrielle and her parents will also be going to Washington, D.C. in the coming weeks.
Gabrielle’s painting will also be displayed at the White House visitor center through September 22, FOX 2 Detroit reported.
“When I think about the large hands holding the White House, those hands are, you know, symbolic of our people collectively, our history collectively, and that you have the background with the flag,” Rashid said about his daughter’s drawing. “And that’s the unifying factor for all of us as Americans, that Black history is not just for African-American people, is for all people.”