Swoosh with a Spelman Woman

By Rachel Patrick, Staff Writer 

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Maroon Tiger sheds light on Brianna Baker, class of 2016, who represented Spelman College in Nike’s Yardrunners 3.0 campaign. The launch featured HBCU alums who are change makers in their communities and careers. 


Baker appeared on Nike’s official website, huge screens in Time Square and received an invitation to speak at Nike offices in New York during their Black community voices event. She spoke on a panel where she highlighted her nonprofit organization, Justice For Black Girls (JBG). 


JBG aims to uplift young Black girls through educational experiences. Baker founded the nonprofit in 2018 to bring young girls positive educational experiences at an early age so they don’t have to wait for affirmation until college like she did at Spelman.


“It’s always a privilege to be able to represent HBCUs but specifically Spelman because Spelman is such a sweet spot,” said Baker. “It not only affirms Blackness but Black girlhood and Black womanhood.” 


When reflecting on the experience with Nike, Baker appreciates how every facet of the campaign highlighted HBCU strength, as photographers and organizers were HBCU alums themselves.


“I think it’s important for companies and infrastructures like Nike to recognize the magic that Black women hold,” said Baker. “Because we ensure that so many of those infrastructures run a reciprocal relationship that is necessary.” 


Growing up in Richmond, VA, Baker lived in what some refer to as the capital of confederacy. 


As a result, Baker aspires to love the young girl within her, which allows her to love young Black girls across the nation. She ties much of her purpose to her nonprofit work and ensuring Black girls receive safe educational spaces that uplift and empower them.


During Baker’s time at Spelman, she studied the school-to-prison pipeline as a political science major in addition to criminalization of Black girls across the nation. When obtaining her Masters in Teaching of Social Studies at Columbia University and volunteering to teach a woman’s course at Rikers Island Prison, she merged her interests and passions together.


Baker had many achievements at Spelman: a Bonner Scholar, Mahogany in Motion dancer, and member of the Eta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.


When asked what advice she would give to Spelman students Baker encourages her younger peers to trust their ability to make their own decisions.


“Give yourself the opportunity to have a renaissance at any given time,” said Baker. “At any point you can reset, restart, pivot.”


She talks about a series of inevitable pressures being associated with, “becoming”.


“The thing about becoming is that it’s a verb so you’re never done, it’s a consistent process,” said Baker.


As Baker becomes, she appreciates Nike’s platform allowing her to further her messages about providing safe space for young Black girls and disrupting systems that cause them harm.


Current Spelman students can engage with JBG through the social justice program at Spelman College and Baker will talk more about her organization when hosting a conference in November 2023.


Copt Edited By Clifton Dutton, Sports Editor