Detroit 3rd grader wins White House art competition

National News

A 9-year-old girl from Detroit beat out 500 others to win a White House student art contest.

Nine-year-old Gabrielle Faisal is the artist behind this picture that won the White House Historical Association’s national student art competition.

“The Black hands holding the White House. That means the enslaved Africans built the White House,” Gabrielle said.

The young Detroiter explained the symbolism of her sketch, starting with those shackled hands and the red stripes representing the fight for freedom from enslavement.

“The white stripes represent the purity of the struggle, the blue means justice and the white stars represent the unity for all people,” Gabrielle said.

Gabrielle was the first place winner in the competition for her age bracket.

More than 500 students from across the country submitted their artwork that was judged for originality, interpretation and historical relevancy.

Gabrielle’s drawing was inspired by the many history lessons she learned from her dad.

“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,” Gabrielle’s dad, Rashid, said.

The Faisals knew Gabrielle’s artwork made the top 10 list for the competition but had no clue she won in her age bracket until they watched the announcement online.

“I was happy. I was really happy,” said Gabrielle.

As are her parents, who are still reflecting on the work of her hands.

“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. 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,” Rashid said.

And Gabrielle’s big win comes with a $1,000 cash prize.

She and her family will be heading to D.C. In a few weeks where finalist hard work will be on display at the White House visitor center through Sept. 22.

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