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An Inside Look: YWPL's 40 Under 40 at DuSable Museum in Chicago


By Sierra Pepin

Dressed to the nines. Smiles and gracious hugs. Recognition of movers, shakers, trailblazers, and give-backers. These elements formed the perfect cocktail to celebrate 40 Black women who hadn't even turned 40 yet. 
Wednesday, November 14, was the Young Women's Professional League's 40 Under 40 ceremony. The event, which took place at the Du Sable Museum of African American History, was the induction for these women into a cohort of Black women leaders. Each of the 40 women, were top professionals in their respective fields.

More than professionalism,  the 40 Under 40 induction ceremony stressed the importance of #sisterhood. I spoke with Cheresa LaFrances Purnell, the founder of YWLP about being a sister. "A true sister holds you accountable. A true sister tells not just what you want to hear, but what you need to hear. And do it in love," she says.

The ceremony included poetry from the artist, K Love, a rendition of Andra Day's "Rise Up," and various Black women leaders gave powerful words. This was all facilitated by two gracious hosts. The end of the ceremony honored the new inductees.
(Photo Credit: Gordon Oliver Jr) 

I heard Black Girl Magic a lot on Wednesday and the phrase can make the moxie of Black femmes mythical. The pull and tug of misogynoir seem like this unreal and distant thing. It can be overused.

And as real as all of the "isms" are, Black Girl Magic prevails. Because that's just it. Black Girl Magic is about the triumph after the trial. Because Black girls already know about the "isms" of the world, and we want to celebrate the fact we've not only survived them, we are impactful, successful, and happy despite of them. That was the kind of celebration that took place at the DuSable Museum on Wednesday night.

"A sister means no matter what, I want to see you succeed, I want to see you win. And I'll do anything to make sure you succeed and win. And I take that very seriously. I feel that way about every young woman inducted into our league. That's family." - Cheresa LeFrances Purnell

Check out my full interview with Cheresa LaFrances. 

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