A celebration of Black History Month inspired something a bit bigger for Eunique Jones Gibson because five years later, her work is even more important than ever.
The founder of Because of Them We Can® campaign says her initial goal was to create “a way to promote Black excellence and history through the eyes of our young people." Adding, "I thought it would last for the month of February, however, years later, we’re still creating and curating content that highlights the good within Black and Brown communities on a daily basis.”
She later founded the co-working space, Dream Village™, “we are creating physical spaces for dream-driven people with the hopes of bringing back village values through opportunities, events and resources that will help us as we continue our individual and collective pursuits of greatness.”
As Jones Gibson made the head-spinning transition from creative to a national spokesperson, she faced many obstacles but believes that each failure made her a better businessperson, a better dreamer and a more efficient doer.
“I learned the importance of failing fast versus dragging failures out over long periods of time,” she says. “If the writing is on the wall, read it, digest it, then clean it off and start again from a more informed position… don’t delay it.”
This journey has also taught her the importance of leaning into her village and that her wins are driven by those around her, “from a little boy named Robbie in Ferguson, Missouri to Myrlie Evers and Spike Lee,” she reflects, “Their feedback and reassurance helps me to realize that this is bigger than me.”
Experience her influences and aspirations, as Eunique talks about what Black Girl Brilliance means to her.
ESSENCE: Name five women that came before you that you look up to.
Eunique: My mother, my grandmothers, Shirley Chisholm and Maya Angelou.
ESSENCE: How have these women shaped your dreams and inspired you?
Eunique: As a child, my mother taught me how to use my imagination to see myself in environments and experiences that at the time were physically impossible. She taught me how to dream. My grandmothers were two dope Black women who had opposite paths. My mother’s mother, Maxine, owned a bar, a set of apartments and used to run numbers back in the day. She was a BOSS!
My father’s mother, Burnetta, was the first lady of my grandfather’s church. I watched her stand tall as the shoulder for others to lean on and a constant voice on what it meant to live right. These women gave me tangible examples of what it meant to pursue greatness, to be a leader, to be strong yet fragile, complicated yet simple... a dope representation of Black Girl Brilliance.
Then, women like Shirley Chisholm, Maya Angelou and so many others are extensions of what I saw in my family growing up. Strong women whose examples I admire and continue to draw from.
Essence: What does Black Girl Brilliance mean?
Eunique: To me it means showing up, owning who you are and allowing others to experience your light. I am proud of who I am and the lineage of strong women that I am inextricably tied to. I try to remember that I carry their strength, brilliance and light with me wherever I go and in everything that I do.
ESSENCE: What three songs would you add to your Black Girl Brilliance playlist?
Eunique: "A Seat at the Table"—the whole album from Solange, "U.N.I.T.Y." by Queen Latifah and "Formation" from Beyoncé.
ESSENCE: How do you hope to make Black history?
Eunique: I like how Tupac said he might not change the world but he guarantees he’ll spark the mind that will. I think that too, is my hope. That my work will cause a shift in someone’s thinking as it pertains to their potential and/or purpose… That it will flip a switch and help someone to believe in their dreams and their greatness and that they’ll be crazy enough to pursue it.
Learn more about her incredible work at @EuniqueJG, @DreamVillageHQ, @Becauseofthem and Facebook and celebrate Black History and #BlackGirlMagic all year round on Spotify’s Black History Is Happening Now Hub.