Empowered Youth

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    Today we look toward the future of Black history by highlighting a few young leaders who are lifting their voices to makie change in their communities and in the world. They are young. They are gifted. Thay are Black.

Day 25 - Y is for Young, Gifted and Black

The Song

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    Nina Simone was inspired to write the song Young, Gifted and Black in 1968 by the pride she saw in being Black and beautiful, the big afros and raised fists. She aimed to capture that moment of joy in Black identity through this song, which she recorded, as did Donny Hathaway and Aretha Franklin.
    To Be Young, Gifted and Black
    By Nina Simone
    Young, gifted and black
    Oh what a lovely precious dream
    To be young, gifted and black
    Open your heart to what I mean
    In the whole world you know
    There's a million boys and girls
    Who are young, gifted and black
    And that's a fact
    "You are young, gifted and black"
    We must begin to tell our young
    There's a world waiting for you
    Yours is the quest that's just begun
    When you feelin' really low
    Yeah, there's a great truth that you should know
    When you're young, gifted and black
    Your soul's intact
    How to be young, gifted and black?
    Oh, how I long to know the truth
    There are times when I look back
    And I am haunted by my youth
    Oh, but my joy of today
    Is that we can all be proud to say
    "To be young, gifted and black

    Is where it's at"
    Is where it's at
    Is where it's at

Aretha Sings

Young, Gifted and Black, 1972

Young Mayor Tubbs

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    Michael Tubbs: At 27, he’s the youngest mayor elected in Stockton, CA's history—actually the youngest in the country to lead any city of its size, according to his staff—as well as the first African American mayor of his hometown. “The ‘firsts’ I was excited about was to be the first one in my entire family to go to college, and the first one at my school to go to Stanford,” he laughs. “Those were the firsts I was really excited about. I had no intention of being the mayor of Stockton, let alone the first of anything here.”

Inaugural Poet

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    Amanda Gorman, a 22 year old Black poet (and Harvard graduate), spoke before the entire world on January 20, 2021 when she delivered the Inaugural poem at President Joe Biden's ceremony. She is the youngest person to ever do so. Her words rang out and touched hearts, souls, and minds. The final words of The Hill We Climb convey the hopeful outlook of youth:


    The new dawn blooms as we free it
    For there is always light,
    if only we're brave enough to see it
    If only we're brave enough to be it

Youth Vote Advocate

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    Jerome Foster II, age 18 is the founder of the OneMillionOfUs movement to mobilize young voters, and the voice of a generation demanding climate action now. "OneMillionOfUs is a youth voting & advocacy youth organization working to educate, energize, and empower a movement of young people to register & turnout to vote. We have built a massive coalition that will provide young people with the tools they need to spur systemic change in their communities, school buildings, and political offices."

Global Change Makers

  • In 2013, three radical Black organizers — Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi — created a Black-centered political will and movement building project called #BlackLivesMatter. It was in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman.




    These 3 women were all 30 years old or younger when they started BLM. Through sheer determination and a belief in their ability to change our world, these young women aparked a global movement. BLM stands alongside the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements as watershed moments in American history.



    Manchild in the Promised Land - Phillip Lindsay Mason

    Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.

Movie Executive

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    Marsai Martin, at age 14, became the youngest Executive Producer in the history of the film industry. The Guiness Book of World Records recently made the designation official. At age 10, she shared the idea for the 2019 movie Little with the producer of her TV show Black-ish, and the rest is history. Her next project Stepmonster is in development.

Motivational King

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    Nyeeam Hudson became a motivational speaker as a result of a viral vidoe in which he shared his reaction to being bullied about his shoes at age 10. Now 15, he is also an author and entrepreneur, and uses the name King Nahh. His messages of self love and confidence have inspired many. Watch.



Reading Revolutionary

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    Marley Dias is the 14-year-old founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks and author of Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You!.  #1000BlackGirlBooks, is an international movement to collect and donate children’s books that feature Black girls as the lead character. Marley launched the #1000BlackGirlBooks drive in 2015 as a result of her frustration at not seeing herself represented in literature. To date, she has collected over 12,000 books. Dias says her role is to “motivate young girls, regardless of their race or their experience, to get out there and do the things you love and that will help other people”.