(This story was originally published Jan. 21, 2022.)By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A young Minneapolis woman is using her own money to take local middle schoolers on vacation, and this trip of a lifetime is changing lives forever.

Two friends, on one mission. It started five years ago, they met at church — Sanctuary, in north Minneapolis. Shamaria Jordan and Taylor Tidwell said their friendship was “natural, just like this – besties, besties.”

Besties who better each other. Taylor says of her friend, “For Shamaria to be opening these doors and opening eyes for young Black girls, I think it’s life changing, absolutely.”

Jordan is a North Central graduate, and she just got her masters at the University of Minnesota, but the focus of her life is now on the education of others. She’s created a program to take Black girls on out of state university visits.

“It’s not only just a college tour, but also a cultural exposure tour, because some of these girls have never gotten on a plane, have never been outside of Minneapolis let alone Minnesota,” she said.

That was the story of her own life; their wasn’t money for college visits. She got on a plane for the first time in college, and then went abroad her senior year and broadened her horizons.

“That truly opened up my mind to so many things that I never knew existed, realizing that the world was way bigger than the city that I lived in,” Jordan said.

So she started making and producing Black pride apparel. She’s using the money to fly her first class of middle schoolers to Nashville to visit schools and sites.

“I think it’s just beautiful, beautiful, for these young Black girls to believe in themselves and see that there is so much more to life,” she said.

Tidwell, who went to North High School and now goes to Spelman College in Atlanta, remembers the impact of her own college visit.

“My heart was just so warm, and I saw people who look like me, and Morehouse is right across the street, so I’ve seen Black males who are just succeeding and looking like me, and I was just like, Wow, yeah…It was home! Literally, it was home.”

And now more girls will have that feeling of bonding and belonging.

“I want them to be able to see the world and experience the world so they can come back and change their own neighborhoods or change their own trajectories in their own lives,” Jordan said.

And with her friend at her side, Jordan hopes to grow her nonprofit so more girls can see the country — and their potential.

“It’s rejuvenating, it really gives me a sense of purpose for what I was created to do,” Jordan said. “That’s what I want, for all of them, to be able to feel what I am feeling right now, that you have a purpose.”

Jordan is selling her apparel, and she’s also taking donations, so she can help more Black girls go on college tours. For more information, click here.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield