Food for Thought: “You can be whomever you aspire to be…” !!!

….Photographer Marc Bushelle shoots his 5 year old daughter, Lily, as Trailblazing Women

Lily as Bessie ColemanAbout Bessie Coleman: Bessie Coleman (1892-1926), was first African American to hold an international pilot license and the first African American woman to pilot a plane in the US. Unable to become a pilot in the US, she studied French and went to Europe. When she returned to the US she became a sensation for her ability to do barrel rolls, wing walks and her loop-de-loop trick aviation.


"My wife and I really wanted to make sure that our daughter felt fearless," said Brooklyn based photographer, Marc Bushelle.

So, Bushelle and his wife to create their own photo series with their daughter dressed as inspiring women.


Lily as Ballerina Misty CopelandAbout Misty Copeland: Misty Copeland is an American Ballet Theater soloist. She once made the statement that "Ballet is something pure in this crazy world". Her start in dance, at 13, was late by ballet standards but she was a true prodigy. She went from knowing nothing to dancing en pointe in three months. Ballet was very structured but her home life was complicated. Her parents divorced when she was three and there was a lot of instability. At one point she was living with her mother in a  motel. Ignoring criticism that she was the wrong shade and shape to be a ballerina she focused on technical excellence. In 2015, she became the first Black Principal dancer in the 75 year history of the ABT. In an interview with “The Washington Post”, she reminds people, “you want to feel accepted, but you don’t have to look like everyone around you, you don’t have to follow the exact same path as someone before you.”

"We made a special effort to find women who had broken down barriers, who had been a 'first' something," Marc said.

"We are hoping that she will be able to benefit from being associated with some of these powerful women."


Lily as Dr. Mae JemisonAbout Mae Jemison: Dr. Mae Jemison was the first African American woman to get accepted in NASA astronaut training program. She was also the first to go into outer space abroad the Endeavor in 1992. She had been a Peace Corp volunteer and was working as a doctor when she was inspired by Sally Ride to change careers. She said, “never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations” and she reached for the stars!!!


"I wanted Lily to be able to identify with them and in turn, build her sense of self-worth. I wanted her to be able to see herself as a future heroine.

I feel that we might be succeeding in this as well as teaching, inspiring and uplifting everyone from little girls to gown ups along the way, myself included. This makes me very happy and fuels my fire" !!!


Lily as Admiral Michelle J. HowardAbout Admiral Michelle J. Howard: On July 1, 2014, Michelle J. Howard made history by becoming the first female four star admiral in the US Navy and the highest ranking black woman in the military. She was referenced in the Tom Hanks movie “Captain Phillips” because Admiral Howard played a role in rescuing the actual Captain Phillips from Somali pirates. She was raised in a military family in Aurora, CO. In 1982, Howard graduated from the US Naval Academy. She earned a master’s degree from Army’s Command and General Staff College in 1998. Her current ranking was not the first time she made history. When she took command of the US warship, the USS Rushmore, in 1999 she became the first woman to do so. In an interview to ABC News, she described piloting the huge ship as “fun”. Never shying from a challenge, Howard has vowed to make tackling sexual assault within the Navy an important issue to allow others to achieve their goals.


Lily as Toni MorrisonAbout Toni Morrison: Born Chole Worfford Toni Morrison was raised in Lorain, Ohio. Morrison became the first Black woman to win a Nobel Prize in literature for her novel Beloved. Other titles included The Bluest Eye, a novel which began as a short story in a writing group at Howard University where she did her undergraduate work. She went on to get a Masters at Cornell. In her work as an editor for Random House, she was instrumental in promoting the works of other Black authors such as Toni Cade Bambara and Angela Davis. She shepherded other young writers as a professor at Howard and Princeton. She is known for the lyrical proses that she uses to tackle complex issues like the psychological impact of slavery and colorism in the Black community. In 2012 Barack Obama presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


Lily as Grace JonesAbout Grace Jones: "We didn’t want to only cover the usual picks but also wanted to include some unexpected women that were trailblazers in their own right, as well as just 'have some fun'.", Lily's Father Marc Bushell said.   Nonetheless,  Grace Jones was born in Spanish Town, Jamaica, but moved with her family to New York when she was twelve years old. Born into a very strict religious family, Jones would rebel and go on to become a model, musician and muse. Her androgyny, sharp cheekbones and fearlessness caught the attention of many when she danced in the legendary Studio 54 or stalked the catwalks of New York and Paris. A true original, Grace's true character adn "attitude was probably most recently celebrated and enjoyed in Eddie Murphy's movie, Boomerang.‪


Lily as Josephine BakerAbout Josephine Baker: As a young girl, Josephine Baker (1905-1975), was servery impacted by the violence of the race riots she witnessed in her hometown of St Louis, MO. Her ability to sing and dance led her to her joining a vaudeville troupe which brought her to New York City. Sensing limitations, she went to Paris to star in “La Revue Negre” and became the show’s breakout star. She is the most famous for her risque banana dance. But as her popularity grew throughout France and the rest of Europe, she still remained concerned about the plight of black people in America. She used her celebrity to demand that the venues in the US that she performed at were not segregated. She was one of the few women who spoke at the 1963 March on Washington alongside Martin Luther King. For her work as a spy in World War II, she was the first American woman awarded France’s top military honors.


Lily as Lena HorneAbout Lena Horne: Lena Horne (1917-2010) was truly one of Brooklyn’s finest. Her glamorous looks would take her to Hollywood but she was grounded in a social consciousness that started in her grandmother’s home in Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. Her grandmother, Cora Horne, instilled in her the need to speak properly and conduct oneself with dignity as a way to combat racism. She would have to draw on this when she headlined at clubs like the Copacabana but wasn’t allowed to walk through its front door. Horne’s legacy is her rejection of stereotypical roles and her activism in the Civil Rights movement. Before Horne, Black women could love and nurture others as amiable, wise-cracking mammies, nannies and maids but they could not be loved. That a Black woman could be desired on the big screen was a revelation. She joined with the NAACP to push for a more positive depiction of Blacks in film. But not all of America could see what she was doing. Movies with Horne were shot in such a way so that when they were shown down South her parts could be edited out. She became increasingly militant and her political views led her to be blacklisted like many artists of her time but she continued to perform in nightclubs and persevere. Horne died at 92 years old.


Lily as Nina SimmoneAbout Nina Simmone: Nina Simone (1933-2003) was born Eunice Waymon in Tryon, NC. She displayed musical talent early on when she started playing the piano by ear at 3. Her mother cleaned houses for a woman who would become her benefactor providing formal piano lessons. She mingled with all the great Black minds of her time James Baldwin, Stokley Carmichael but it was her friendship with playwright Lorraine Hansbery led to the creation of the anthem “ To Be Young, Gifted and Black”. Dubbed “The High Priestess of Soul”, she put out 40 albums in her lifetime. She was not afraid to call on her contemporaries and her audiences to act. Her legacy continues to inspire. Most recently, singer John Legend started his Oscar acceptance speech with a quote by Simone stating, “It’s an artist’s duty to reflect the times in which we live.”


Lily as Shirley ChisholmAbout Shirley Chisholm: Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005), was born in Brooklyn but she did her early schooling with her grandmother in Barbados. She excelled in politics and debating at Brooklyn College. When a position became available, she stepped up to the New York State Assembly. That led to her running for Congress in 1969 with the campaign slogan "Unbossed and Unbought". She won and became the first Black woman to be elected to Congress. She went to DC representing Brooklyn and balked when the powers that be sought to put her on the Agriculture Committee which she felt did not have much to do with her community. However, connecting with people despite differences was something that helped to make her effective. She was a politician who stood for integrity and accountability to her constituency. Because of this in January 1972, she announced her candidacy for president becoming the first Black woman to do so. While her political achievements were historic and impressive, Chisholm said she preferred to be remembered as, "a black woman who lived in the 20th century and dared to be herself"


Lily as Yuri KochiyamaAbout Yuri Kochiyama: Yuri Kochiyama (1921-2014) was born in San Pedro, CA.. She was nisei or an American-born child of Japanese parents. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, her father, who was already in poor health, was detained, denied medicine and died as a result. Soon after that, the rest of her family was rounded up and interned. The US government held 120,000 people with Japanese heritage in camps because of suspicions about their loyalty. Her family stayed there for two years. This early exposure to racial profiling and injustice helped make Kochiyama an activist. Later on following an arrest for civil disobedience in Brooklyn, she introduced herself to Malcolm X and the two became fast friends. She studied with him at his Organization of Afro-American Unity. On the day that Malcolm X was assassinated, she was there. Kochiyama and her signature cat-eye glasses can be seen in the Life magazine photos holding Malcolm X’s head as he lay dying in the Audubon Ballroom. She continued to fight for human rights for all people. She fought for and won reparations for Japanese people who were interned and a formal apology from the US government in the 80s


Marc Bushelle says more photos are definitely planned. "We wanted to make sure that we represent all realms," he said. "I don't want to give it away, but stay tuned….."


source article and photos of Mark Buschelle and Daughter I ran across on
…and also from an article on


click here or below for all my articles in
"Food for Thought" (a.k.a., "Soul Food")
Copyright Disclaimer: Right to use photos claimed under: Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for fair use for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use

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