Pretty Brown Girl teaches young Detroit women to embrace who they are and do great things


Empowerment is powerful. It gives us the confidence to do great things.

The girls of Detroit will become empowered and gain the self-esteem they need to learn be their best and appreciate their skin color by attending a class with the Detroit Recreation Department and the Pretty Brown Girl Foundation.

The class on self-esteem begins October 3 and runs for 20 weeks at Adams-Butzel Complex in Detroit.

The Pretty Brown Girl Foundation, which focuses on young women from K-12, is a personal project for founder and Detroit native Sheri Crowley. Crowley’s own daughters inspired her to respond to the need to inspire self-esteem and pride in young girls.

Founded two years ago, Crowley moved even further and adapted what she taught to young ladies across the world.

“I consider it a blessing to have our program changing lives right in the same city that I was born and raised,” Crowley said. “This partnership with Detroit Recreation Department and Adams-Butzel Center will give inner city girls at different ages and stages in life a safe space to have their voices heard.”

Here’s how Pretty Brown Girl started.

In 2010, Crowley and her husband Corey moved back to Detroit to be closer to her mom who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. When their oldest daughter, Laila, started kindergarten they noticed changes in her behavior. She lost her bubbly personality and became more withdrawn and timid during school hours.

Laila also decided she wanted long blonde hair like many of her classmates instead of her own beautifully textured hair.

Around the same time, Anderson Cooper on CNN 360 aired a four part series on search results of a Doll Test initially conducted in the 1940’s by Dr. Kenneth and Mamie Clark. The test showed when given a choice, children have a bias toward brown skin tones.

When Crowley planned a birthday for her youngest daughter Aliya, at a popular doll store she found that not one of the little girls, including Sheri’s daughters, chose a brown doll.

That led Sheri to be concerned about the effects on girls who rarely see images of their own likeness depicted in a positive manner.

Her husband began using “Pretty Brown Girl” as a term of endearment for their daughters. That led the couple to create a product line for young ladies that carried the message “Pretty Brown Girl.”

Oprah Winfrey shows of the Pretty Brown Girl doll

Oprah Winfrey shows off the Pretty Brown Girl doll

Today the Pretty Brown Girl Movement offers products, including a doll, as well as workshops, events and a club for girls and young women. It has already been added to the academic line-up at schools like Cass Tech, Renaissance, Cornerstone, Bagley and Henry Ford Academy. Adams-Butzel, however,  will be the first time that it is used as an extra-curricular learning experience.

“We are pleased that we will be able to offer a program to empower our young ladies to be confident and to achieve their best,” said Detroit Recreation Department Director Alicia Bradford.

To find out more about the program, contact Adams-Butzel Recreation Center Supervisor Morae Cochran at (313) 628-0990 or via email at To inquire about partnering or supporting Pretty Brown Girl, visit or email

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