Changing the Commonwealth with Crayons

Time Period
1925 to Today
Art & Architecture
Black History
Business & Industry
Sports & Leisure
Women's History

Bellen Woodard and her More Than Peach Project™.

When she was in the third grade, a classmate asked her to pass the “skin-colored” crayon—a familiar request heard at her Leesburg elementary school. She understood her friend was asking for the peach-colored crayon, but it bothered her. Bellen Woodard was the only black girl in her class. Recognizing that there are many skin tones, she decided that in the future, when asked for the “skin-colored” crayon, she would respond “which one?” The spirit of inclusiveness Bellen advocated for was embraced by her fellow students and teachers, and soon the entire school stopped referring to the peach-colored crayon as skin-colored. Bellen did not, however, think the change should end at the doors to her school. In 2019—with the support of her family—she created the More Than Peach Project™. 

Using money she had saved, Bellen ordered crayons in a diverse array of skin tones, packed them into kits along with sketchpads, and began working toward a goal of donating one to each of the 80,000 students in her community. The project received national attention, and Bellen began receiving requests for coloring kits from across the country—including one from the VMHC. Originally focused on ushering in change in her community, Bellen said that “to know that I’ve made a huge impact around the United States and parts of the world [is an] amazing feeling.”  


Bellen's More Than Peach Project™ coloring kit, containing 12-pack of multicultural crayons, 24-pack of rainbow crayons, drawing pad, and postcard. (VMHC 2020.37.1)

Since Bellen and her family first visited the museum in March 2020, she has developed her own branded sets of multicultural crayons that include twelve different colors. Assembly of each kit is still conducted by hand at their home, and some of the proceeds continue to allow free kits to be offered to students.

While in the fifth grade, Bellen Woodard was named one of the five top finalists for the first-ever Nickelodeon and TIME® Magazine Kid of the Year honor which recognizes extraordinary young leaders who are making positive impacts in their community. 

For 190 years, the VMHC has collected and shared stories about Virginia’s past, but it is also actively engaged in building a collection that will help future generations understand the time in which we live. Bellen’s remarkable efforts to empower young people, build cultural awareness, and encourage empathy—represented by a box of crayons—is now preserved as part of our history.   

In November 2020, Bellen Woodard visited the VMHC, talked about the More Than Peach Project™, and led an online virtual coloring program from our HistoryConnects studio. 

The More Than Peach™ Palette Packet donated by Bellen Woodard to the VMHC collection contains a drawing pad, 24 rainbow crayons, 12 different multicultural crayons, and a postcard.