As we celebrate Black History Month, we hope that the conversation continues year round about the people that have shaped history, who have not received the dues they deserve. We can learn so much from these “hidden figures,” and I hope and pray that our curriculum, conversations and education will reflect the beautiful diverse stories and backgrounds that our country is built on. Here are a few change-makers to spark the conversations in our homes about other influential African Americans we have learned about. I also challenge you to sit down with your family and do your own google search. The inspiration is endless. Share with us what you learn! #ilearnedLTT

Community chain reaction impact leaders:

At age 8, Mari Copeny wrote a letter in 2016 to President Obama that brought attention to the Flint Michigan water crisis. Her advocacy for her community didn’t end there, she is now collecting backpacks for children who need them with her campaign #PackYourBackChallenge. She has collected more than 1,000 backpacks (and counting) for kids who may have not had the opportunity to have a new clean backpack otherwise. “Raising over $10,000 in two weeks online to provide backpacks for over 1,000 students in Flint as they head back to school this fall.” She is also the youngest Women’s March Youth Go Mari!

What we can learn from her:

Our kids, at any age, are capable of making a huge impact on our communities and world. Don’t limit what they can do or dismiss their ambition. Teens, you can do it. Your voice is powerful now, you don’t have to wait to make an impact if you feel compelled. Now’s your time.

If you want help launching your community effort or goals let’s talk!

Teens impacting change in gun and school violence.

There are teens and young people leading the charge to see change in gun violence and school safety. There have been young black activists leading the way in every city and school stuck by gun violence. Sadly, many of the marches and individuals leading the mission have not received the recognition they deserve according to many activists.

Organizations like Community Justice Reform Coalition founded by Amber Goodwin, Dream Defenders a student-led organization who staged a week-long sit-in at the Florida Capitol in response to the death of Trayvon Martin, and marches like this one in Chicago have and continue to impact modern history.

#BLMChiYouth protest going on at Millennium Park right now @iridescenteva

— Colin B Photography (@colinbphoto) July 11, 2016

What we can learn from these advocates and activists:
Their passion, courage and zeal to not settle for the negative they see happening around them. They have a “Hell No!” that drives them. Breaking the destructive patterns that surround us and refusing to believe that violence is just a part of school and community culture. It doesn’t have to be that way, and we have a voice to stop it. Activism with action and a now is what leads to true change.

There are so many more organizations that are breaking ground and leading the way. What are some of your favorites? Comment below. Are there some we should add to our white-pages? Let us know!

Breaking barriers to rise to the top:

Jane Bolin was the first African American woman to graduate from Yale Law School “ became the nation’s first Black female judge in 1939, according to The New York Times.”

Jesse LeRoy Brown wrote a letter to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he was a teen. He wrote to express his disappointment that African Americans were not flying in the air force. A few short years later, he was the first to fly for the Navy in 1947 and became an officer in 1950.

Charlie and Hannah Lucas, teen entrepreneurs and modern-day trailblazers, launched an app called notOK. This app allows teens to ask for help when they are in crisis. Out of a physical challenge of her own, Hannah is finding a way to use her challenge to outreach to others in need. When the app is used, it sends a text to the programmed person, “ Hey, I’m not OK. Please call me, text me, or come find me,” along with a link to the current GPS location to five pre-selected contacts in her phone.”

The take away from these trailblazers:

The power of one person. The mentality of, “I’m just one person I could never,” or, “ I’m 14, and I could never,” or, “I’m 55 and…”.  Each of us possesses something special that this world needs.

Civil rights movement:

We are a multicultural nation because of a generation, a legacy of people that believed they are better than a circumstance and more than what people see.

“People who look like us were under pressure to be something they were not. In an effort to break out of their box and change their circumstances, they took an idea, a leap of faith or a chance at bravery and made history.” -Nina Tejada

Imagine being on your bus unable to sit next to your best friend or the boy you like, or maybe in your favorite seat by the window all because of the texture of your hair, the width of your nose and the color on the back of your hand. You like the same shows as all people on the bus, you have classes with a few of these friends, your Instagram is filled with lots of likes, but you have to be separated, excluded and it’s the law.

Claudette Colvin was 15 years old on her bus with this scenario. In 1955, there was a law that African Americans were to be treated “equal but separate.”Does that furrow your brow a bit?! Well, Claudette, a teen in her generation, rightfully believed segregation on a bus is not equal and violated the constitution. March 2nd, in an act of segregation, the bus driver told Claudette to give up her seat to a white woman. Out of a moral cry in her heart, Claudette said no and she did it afraid.

Claudette’s bravery challenged segregation laws which later helped advance civil rights efforts. She felt in her heart something wasn’t right and started a revolution for people to have the right to feel the same way. A few months later Rosa Parks would become a historical ambassador for following in these footsteps.

Is there something you see that seems unfair?

Though we at Let’s Talk Teens love highlighting these influential African American young people during Black History Month, meaningful conversations and highlighting impactful people and stories from every race and background is an everyday conversation.

I can’t wait to read your stories of who you feel inspired on social media.

Now what:

Do your google search for a few minutes or hours and share using #iLearnedLTT.

Brought to you by:

The Let’s Talk Teens team


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