Over 85,000 daughters of Marsha P. Johnson, Ida B. Wells, Sojourner Truth and more walked in unison while marching millions of miles away from each other. As a part of GirlTrek’s Black History Bootcamp, the company’s Co-founders Vanessa Garrison and T. Morgan Dixon led listeners on a 21-day walk to learn about their heritage and practice self-care.
Taking over the responsibility to educate black women on the hidden heroes of their past, GirlTrek’s Black History Bootcamp follows Angela Davis’ call to action to “call the names of those Black women who we do not know because they are the ones who have gotten us to where we are today.”
“We are the #DaughtersOf freedom fighters, of way makers, strategists and builders of nations, authors, artists, soldiers, and spies,” Dixon said in a statement. “And in order to know where we’re going in this moment, we need to know where we have been.”
Women across the globe are waking up to a soulful black female artist chosen from the playlists made for each walk and a newsletter that includes survival tips, speeches + dedicated songs to listen to during their walk. The podcast focuses on a different momentous black woman each day whose activism impacted the country.
“How do we do this work, but still be healthy and whole,” Garrison asked before answering her own question. “That’s the mission of GirlTrek.”
GirlTrek has 789,337 women who have taken the pledge and their goal is to get one million women to sign up and join their movement. GirlTrek has chapters in over 50 cities across the nation and any member can become an organizer through trainings and pamphlets provided on GirlTrek’s website. Faye Paige Edwards was one of the first organizers for the St. Louis chapter.
“We’re always talking about they don’t teach black history in school, they don’t teach it in church,” Edwards said. “It’s an effort for us to take responsibility for spreading the wonderful news about our history.”
“I think it’s important to note that GirlTrek is not a walking group, GirlTrek is not a fitness organization,” Edwards said. “GirlTrek is an organization whose main message is self-care and a chance to come together with some sisters, get some love, be reenergized and be encouraged to live your life in the best possible way.”
Dixon calls in from Ghana and Garrison is leading from Washington D.C. GirlTrek’s virtual connections that are made continue to touch hundreds of thousands after adapting due to the coronavirus.
“If it weren’t for the virus, you could go on the national map and anyone can post a walk there,” Edwards said. “And that’s how you can find out about walks and things going on if you’re not on social media.”
With all 50 states protesting that Black lives matter, GirlTrek’s Black History Boot Camp could not have come at a more appropriate time. GirlTrek has been doing this work for over 10 years and combines civil rights education with health, self-love and self-care initiatives.
“We are besieged by trauma, by fear and it’s ravaging the country honestly and we’re figuring out how to respond,” Garrison said.
“This is an offering, an invitation to black women everywhere that you don’t have to go at it alone, and that you don’t have to sit and worry in fear because we have answers by studying the black women giants, mothers, organizers and strategists.”
At the end of each week, boot camp participants received a virtual trophy that is sharable on social media. It is never too late to join the walk. The podcasts are recorded and available for download on Spotify and Apple Podcast.
“Let’s be the celebration,” Garrison said. “We don’t want to wait for somebody to teach us about Shirley Chisolm. We can teach ourselves and we can teach our babies.”