This 9-Year-Old Won First Place In The White House History Association’s National Student Art Competition


August 10, 2021

She’s telling the story of America with her art!

Gabrielle Faisal won The White House History Association’s National Student Art Competition for her artwork entitled, “Enslaved African Americans Built the White House.” The drawing consisted of large Black hands holding up the white house with the American flag in the background. The third-grader said she wanted to pay homage to the enslaved Africans who built the White House.


“I was inspired to paint this picture because of the history I read and learned from my father. The White House is a symbol of America that was built by enslaved African Americans,” Faisal said. 

Her father was moved by her piece and told reporters it depicted an important part of global history that everyone should know.


“When I think about the large hands holding The White House, the hands are symbolic of our people, collectively, our history,” Rashid Faisal told Fox 2 Detroit. “And you have the background with the flag, and that is the unifying factor for all of us as Americans. Black history is not just for African-American people, it is for all people.”

The 9-year-old Detroit native was selected from more than 500 students in her age range from across the country. Their work was judged by a panel of professionals, including renowned portrait artist Simmie Knox on originality, interpretation, and historical relevancy.

Gabrielle’s father Rashid told reporters that the family knew she made the top 10 finalist, but didn’t realize she won until the watched the competition’s announcement online. Gabrielle said she was really happy when she found out. Her parents are just as proud. 


“The Red Stripes symbolize our struggle for freedom. The White Stripes symbolize the purity of our struggle. Blue is the symbol of justice for all people no matter what color. The Stars represent the unity of all people coming together. The shackled hands are the hands of enslaved Africans who built the White House,” Gabrielle said.

Gabrielle will receive a $1,000 cash prize and her family will be heading to Washington, D.C. in a few weeks to see her art in the visitors center. All of the finalists will have their work on display in The White House’s visitors center through Sept. 22. 


Congratulations, Gabrielle! We can’t wait to see how your talent blooms!

Photo Credit: Fox2Detroit/The White House History Association

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