Two-year-old Parker Curry gazes at a portrait of former first lady Michelle Obama at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
Screenshot: Ben Hines (courtesy of Jessica Curry)

By now you’ve likely seen the image of a 2-year-old black girl in a pink-and-red parka, her hair separated into two precise puffs, looking up in awe at a portrait of Michelle Obama at the National Portrait Gallery.

That girl was little Parker Curry. And her mother, Jessica Curry, told CNN on Saturday that Parker believed she was in the presence of royalty, and she was awestruck and inspired by it.

After talking with her daughter over the last two days, Curry told the news outlet that she realized Parker “believes Michelle Obama is a queen, and she wants to be a queen as well.”

Curry also described the moment captured on camera by a fellow museum attendee, Ben Hinds. Hinds, who is from North Carolina and was touring the National Portrait Gallery with his mother, snapped the photo and posted it on his Facebook page, where it quickly went viral.

“Parker was in front of the portrait, and I really wanted her to turn around so I could get a picture with her, and she genuinely, honestly would not turn around,” Curry told CNN. “She was uncooperative with me because she was just so focused on the portrait and studying it, and she was just so fascinated.”

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Parker’s strong reaction to the former first lady’s portrait, both at the gallery and afterward, spoke to the impact of seeing such positive images. Recently published studies have supported this idea, finding that black girls with a positive, “strong racial identity” are more likely to be academically engaged, curious and persistent.

It’s something her mother is fully aware of.

“As a female and as a girl of color, It’s really important that I show her people who look like her that are doing amazing things and are making history so that she knows she can do it,” Curry said.