Nine-year-old Gabrielle Faisal recently emerged winner of the White House Historical Association’s National Student Art Competition.
Inspired to tell the history of African-Americans slavery and freedom in her drawing, the talented young Detroit native’s art piece won hearts.
Explaining the concept of the sketch starting with shackled hands and the red stripes representing the fight for freedom from enslavement, she said;
“The Black hands holding The White House, that means the enslaved Africans built the White House,”
Gabrielle Faisal said she was moved to paint it after learning of the history from her father:
“I was inspired to paint this picture because of the history I read and learned from my father. The White House is a symbol of America that was built by enslaved African-Americans,” Gabrielle said.
“The red stripes symbolize our struggle for freedom,” Gabrielle said. “The white stripes symbolize the purity of our struggle. Blue is the symbol of justice for all people, no matter what color. The stars represent the unity of all people coming together. The shackled hands are the hands of enslaved Africans who built the White House.”
Her father Rashid Faisal, speaking with Fox 2 Detroit said it represented a global history that everyone should know;
“When I think about the large hands holding The White House, the hands are symbolic of our people, collectively, our history.”
“And you have the background with the flag, and that is the unifying factor for all of us as Americans. Black history is not just for African-American people, it is for all people.” He explained.
“I have a home library filled with books on African-American history, Blacks who were a part of building The White House, so for her when it came time to do art, it was just organic for her,” her father, Rashid Faisal further added.
Gabrielle won first place in her age bracket. More than 500 students from across the country submitted their artwork that was judged for originality, interpretation, and historical relevancy.
Amongst the esteemed panel of judges was renowned portrait artist Simmie Knox.
The excited family disclosed that while they knew Gabrielle made the 10 top finalists, didn’t realize she won until they watched the competition’s announcement online.
Gabrielle will receive a $1,000 cash prize and together with her family will be headed to Washington, D.C., in a few weeks. All finalists will also have their work displayed in The White House’s visitors center through Sept. 22.