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Yellow dresses last year spread some sunshine now.

Last year, on Sunday, July 28, I was honored and privileged to attend the third annual "Little Black Dress" party in Xenia Roach's back yard.

The event, founded and organized by Joyce Hill, Brigitte Giles, Jennifer Weatherspoon, Xenia Roach, and Martha Young, brings women together each year for fun, fellowship, love, empowerment, food, drink, and dancing.

I've had the photos and video from that day on my computer since then, and this was one of the many stories I really wanted to tell -- but just didn't make happen. The event itself is worth a story, but so many of the women there can tell incredible stories of their own about love, tragic loss, friendships that have been torn asunder by violence and then renewed, resilience, strength, forgiveness, and faith.

When photos from the party of all these beautiful women in yellow (yes, it's called the Little Black Dress Party, but each year features a different color--last year was yellow, the year before, pink, and the first year ... black) started popping up in my Facebook memories yesterday, I finally sat down and put together some of the words and images from that day.

I worried about posting it so soon after three tragic homicides that have shaken the community, but Joyce reassured me and said the memories from exactly a year ago would bring joy and "spread a little sunshine during these bleak times."

So here's a short compilation of words and pictures from a beautiful afternoon and evening.

As Joyce told me that day, anybody is invited.

"It's open invitation," she said. "All of us come from different backgrounds, but basically we're Evanstonians."

Gigi Giles made it clear that the invitation wasn't entirely open: men, she said, are not invited.

"We don't invite men because it 's all about women coming together for empowerment," she said. "To have a good time, laugh, joke, love, and have a good time."

As for why the group chose the color yellow?

"It's fierce," Joyce said. "It's about standing, being bright, and celebrating life."

This year's Little Black Dress event was canceled due to the pandemic, but I'm sure this group of women have big plans for next year, when, hopefully, we can all gather together again.


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