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Young activists creating the Black future

Updated: Jun 17, 2021

The black liberation movement has always been strong within the African continent and its Diaspora. From Ancient freedom fighters and Pan-African leaders to the Civil Rights Movement and black empowerment movements today, there is a long history of speaking out against injustice. Black people have always been vocal about free themselves from oppression and fight for their freedom. In the past you would always have a specific figurehead leading the masses. These days we have a group of people within movements that are taking on these leadership roles. This has especially been accelerated with the use of social media. It has allowed for people b to voice their opinion and influence others with their content.

Young leaders are active on the forefront for social, political, and environmental issues, these include Vanessa Nakate - Inspiring Climate Activist. As said by Nelson Mandela “The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow”, Young leaders have also become active at the forefront in the fight for social, political, and environmental issues. It is vital to make space for them to take part in creating a solution for the future, they are the ones who will be affected in the long term by what we allow to happen today. Their voices need to be heard!

Let us take a closer look at some of the wonderful and brave young Black activists globally.

Angelina Makore is a Zimbabwean women’s rights activist that has been very outspoken and against child marriage in Zimbabwe. She is the head of the organization Spark R.E.A.D. (Resilience, Empowerment, Activism, and Development), which aims to empower young girls and women in Zimbabwe. As someone who escaped child marriage at the age of 14, she understands how important it is for young girls to have support and a place to look for help. After refusing to enter a marriage at such a young age she saw the need for young children’s voices to be heard and started her activism journey.

There is an increase of voices speaking out about environmental damage and actions that need to be taken in order to save the planet. On the African continent there are several activists advocating for a change in our behaviours towards the Earth. One activist is the Zimababwean, Nkosilah Nyathi. He started his activism at the age of 10. He was part of the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP25 2019 in Madrid, where he spoke about the importance of listening to the youth when it comes to environmental actions.

We all know the immense impact the Black Lives Matter movement has had globally in creating awareness, educating, and impacting change in the area of racism. This would not have been possible without all the brave activists behind the scenes.

Nupol Kiazolu is part of the Black Live Matters leadership team and heads the New York division. She started being active and involved in campaigns, after the death of Trayvon Martin, who was fatally shot by George Zimmerman in 2012. She began protesting at school and won a case defending her right to protest, after backlash from her teachers. She saw the importance of going out to campaign for equal rights and the fight against racism.

Zulaika Patel is known to many as a South African activist who fights against racism. She became known through an incident at her school, Pretoria’s Girls High School. In her school, students with afros were urged to straighten their hair and her teachers asked her to not wear her natural afro hair as it did not conform with the school’s appearance policy and was not considered “neat”.

The school went through a transformation from an all-white school to being more inclusive towards other backgrounds, but their policy did not match the change. Zulaika was part of the leadership team who then organized protests at the school in order to fight their non-inclusive policies. Thanks to social media, the protesters received a lot of support and solidarity within South Africa and worldwide. As a result of their protests, these policies in the school were abolished and the school faced further investigation related to racism.

In 2013, a list of 54 public schools in Chicago that were to be closed was announced. This news led, Asean Johnson, who was only 9 at the time on his path to becoming an advocate in the fight for educational equality against the mayor’s plans to close public schools. He fought hard to make sure that his school was not included in the list and gave a series of speeches, about the right to have education and equal rights within the country. The 4th grader at the time started a campaign and directly addressed the politicians involved in the educational sector. His voice was heard and with the help of supporters he managed to save his elementary school from closure and started his path to activism.

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