Long before film and television, animation was perhaps the first format to provide accurate, complex and memorable representation of Black girls in the media. It’s no wonder why some of our favorite cartoon characters happen to be Black girls, who all hold a near and dear imprint in our the hearts of our inner child.
Here are some of our faves:
Susie Carmichael from Rugrats
Angelica Pickles did not want smoke with Susie Carmichael on Rugrats. The one baby who could take on the curmudgeonly toddler, Susie was the classic cartoon’s first Black character. Beloved by the babies and the adults, Susie is kind, pretty much good at everything that she does and could sing.
Valerie Gray from Danny Phantom.
A prime example of an animated anti-heroine does right, Danny Phantom‘s Valerie Gray was a shallow, popular girl whom we all rooted for. One the mean girls who ridiculed Danny at school, Valerie was a notable character for viewers.
Penny Proud from The Proud Family
The lead character of The Proud Family, Penny Proud was an overachieving Black girl with a solid group of friends and a stable family foundation. Like all preteens, she dealt with her fair share of adolescent issues: peer pressure, bullies and helicopter parents, Still, she usually overcame them all towards the end of each episode.
Trixie Carter from American Dragon: Jake Long
One of the few characters privy to the fact that Jake is half-dragon, American Dragon: Jake Long’s Trixie Carter was equal parts loyal and sassy to the titular character in the classic animated series.
Numbuh 5 from Codename: Kids Next Door
Equal parts tomboyish and level-head, Abigail “Numbuh 5” Lincoln was the breakout character on the Cartoon Network show Codename: Kids Next Door. Numbuh 5 was a star student in her class, but she also dealt with her fair share of problems, such as like a menacing older sister and shenanigans with her group of friends.
- Libby Folfax from Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
The best friend to Cindy Vortex, Libby Folfax was not shy about her love of music and fashion. She was also a descendant of Egyptian royalty and a favorite among Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius fans.
Miranda Killgallen from As Told By Ginger.
Not all Black girls in cartoons have to be likable. They can be icy, bone-chillingly cunning, and downright antagonistic. Case in point: Miranda Killgallen from As Told By Ginger. As played by “The Queen Of Amination” Cree Summer, Miranda was envious of Ginger’s friendship with her bestie, popular girl Courtney Gripling and always conspired to make Ginger’s life a living hell, going as far as to call the police on her and have her arrested in one episode.
Ashley Boulet from Recess.
A member of the mean girl clique The Ashleys on the Saturday morning staple Recess, Ashley Boulet aka Ashley B. was just as mean to her group of friends as much as she was the kids on the playground. Case in point: The “Outcast Ashley” episode of Recess when she kicked one of The Ashleys out of her clique for not abiding by dress code for the day.
Keesha Franklin from The Magic School Bus
A fan fave on The Magic School Bus, Keesha Franklin is depicted as level-headed, ambitious, laidback and at times, sarcastic. A highlight of Kessha’s characterization is that she has two mothers.
Gaia from Captain Planet
The writers of Captain Planet knew what they were doing when they made Mother Earth a Black woman. As voiced by the legendary Whoopi Goldberg in Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Gaia was the spirit of the Earth who sings five magic rings – Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, Heart – to five teenagers to save the planet from pollution.