By NextGen America
To close out Black History Month 2021 on a high note, NextGen America is recognizing 30 young Black changemakers who are making history right now. These young political figures, community organizers, and activists are helping shape political discourse around the country and transform the way we see the world.
Thandiwe Abdullah — Thandiwe Abdullah is a student and Black Lives Matter activist who helped to form BLM Youth Vanguard, an offshoot of Black Lives Matter that focuses on children. Thandiwe and the Youth Vanguard have worked to protect students in their community and have successfully removed random searches from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).
Julian King — Julian King is a talented musical artist, lyricist, and Instagram influencer who frequently uses his platform to uplift the Black Lives Matter movement. During the 2020 election, King promoted voter registration and the importance of young people’s voices in politics.
Amanda Gorman — Amanda Gorman is a poet and current student at Harvard University. She delivered a powerful reading of her poetry at President Joe Biden’s inauguration and Super Bowl LV. She has a new book of poetry, The Hills We Climb, coming out this fall.
Amariyanna Copeny — Amariyanna Copeny is an activist from Flint, Mich., best known for her organizing that helped bring the Flint water crisis to the attention of millions of Americans. Copeny’s work focuses on encouraging young people everywhere to embrace their power and wield it to make a difference.
Tamiel Mckee Bey — Tamiel Mckee Bey is the founder of Black Voices United, an artist collective, and a community organizer. Black Voices United was created as a space for Black youth to develop their artistry and grow as artists. It now also serves as an organization that helps youth of color across California and the United States find and amplify their voices.
Corey Arvinger — Corey Arvinger is the founder of Support Black Colleges, a clothing brand whose mission is to uplift, inspire, and encourage others to Support HBCUs. Arvinger started the brand on the Howard University campus and has built the company into one of the top HBCU brands in the world.
Councilwoman Brittany Claybrooks — Brittany Claybrooks serves as Councilwoman for the 2nd ward of East Orange, New Jersey. Councilwoman Claybrooks has also worked in the Office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and at Young Invincibles, a nonprofit advocacy group that supports young people in higher education, health, economic development, and young parents’ initiatives.
Gabrielle Farrell — Gabrielle Farrell is an experienced political operative who most recently served as Elizabeth Warren’s traveling press secretary on Warren’s 2020 Presidential campaign. She previously worked as a Press Secretary on Elizabeth Warren’s ’18 Senate re-election campaign and Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh’s re-election campaign for mayor of Boston.
Mariah Parker — Mariah Parker was elected county commissioner in Athens-Clarke County Commissioner at only 26 years old. In addition to her work as a political figure, she is a successful, openly queer hip-hop artist. Parker also co-hosts Waiting on Reparations, an iHeartRadio show that covers the intersection of hip-hop and politics.
Malcolm Kenyatta — Malcolm Kenyatta is a Philadelphia-based state representative and activist. He is the first openly LGBTQ+ person of color and one of the youngest members elected to the PA General Assembly. Kenyatta also recently announced a bid for U.S. Senate representing Pennsylvania.
Lauren Underwood — Lauren Underwood is currently serving as a Congressional Representative for Illinois’ 14th district. She is the first woman to represent IL-14 and is the youngest Black woman ever elected to Congress. Underwood previously served in the Obama Administration as a senior advisor in the Health and Human Services Department.
Mandela Barnes — Mandela Barnes is currently serving as Lt. Governor of Wisconsin. Barnes is the first Black American to serve in the role and the second Black American to ever hold statewide office. At only 25 years old, Mandela was elected to the Wisconsin state assembly, where he chaired the Black and Latino Caucus and championed gun violence prevention issues.
Kalan Haywood, Jr. — Kalan Haywood, Jr. is the youngest elected official ever in Wisconsin, where he currently serves as State Representative for the 16th Assembly District. Haywood encourages young people to think of their age as a powerful asset, and he is proud to bring a young person’s perspective and voice to the halls of the Wisconsin capital.
Jess Guilbeaux — Jess Guilbeaux arrived in the public eye after being featured on an episode of Netflix's Queer Eye. Her charming personality and heartfelt story quickly made her a fan favorite and catapulted her social media profiles into influencer status. She now uses her platform to preach acceptance, radical self-love, and uplift social justice issues like Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ rights.
Martese Johnson — Martese Johnson is an activist working to raise awareness about implicit bias and police brutality by sharing his story of being subjected to an unjust and unnecessarily violent arrest in Virginia. Johnson’s arrest trended nationwide on social media, helping to spark a new age of social media activism around police brutality and police accountability. Johnson is currently a J.D. Candidate at the University of Michigan Law School.
Nupol Kiazolu — Nupol Kiazolu is a New York City-based activist and organizer in the Black Lives Matter Movement. She founded Vote 2000, a campaign to get young people of color registered to vote. Kiazolu also previously served as President of the Youth Coalition of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York.
Winter BreeAnne — Winter BreeAnne is a student, founder, and activist. In 2018, after the Parkland shooting, she organized walkouts across the country as a response to the gun violence students face in their schools. Over 2 million students participated. BreeAnne also founded Black is Lit, a collective aimed at reshaping the narrative of the Back community and uplifting positive stories of everyday young people.
Aleceia Howard — Aleceia Howard is a Virginia-based political organizer currently working as an Operations Manager & HR Coordinator for NextGen America, the nations’ largest youth voter mobilization group. Howard previously served as Operations Director for NextGen Virginia, helping to coordinate logistics and HR for a team of hundreds of organizers and fellows who registered thousands of young Virginians to vote.
Jackie James — Jackie James is a Black Lives Matter activist and social media influencer who uses her TikTok platform to uplift social issues and help educate other young people on the app. James is currently finishing up her senior year of high school, where she is passionate about theatre and performing arts.
Zyahna Bryant — Zyahna Bryant is a Virginia-based student activist and racial justice advocate who has been organizing since she was a young teen. At only 12 years old, Zyahna organized a rally for Justice for Trayvon Martin and other Black lives lost to police violence. Bryant recently published a collection of poetry and essays titled, “Reclaim.” and currently serves as the youngest member of the inaugural Virginia African American Advisory Board.
Justin Atkins — Justin Atkins is a seasoned political operative based in Palm Beach, Florida. He currently works as the National Political Manager for NextGen America, the nation’s largest youth voter mobilization group. Atkins previously served as the State Director and Organizing Director for NextGen Florida, leading a team of hundreds of organizers and fellows who registered tens of thousands of young Floridians to vote.
Naomi Wadler — Naomi Wadler captivated the country at only 11 years old when she gave one of the most powerful and memorable speeches at the March For Our Lives rally in Washington D.C. Wadler continues to organize and inspire others through her speaking events while she finishes school.
Rachel Clark — Rachel Clark is an environmental activist and Black Lives Matter advocate currently attending Howard University. Clark founded Waves of Change, a student-led non-profit climate justice organization, and is currently serving as an undergraduate President at Howard’s student association.
Tay Anderson —Tay Anderson is currently serving as the at-large director for the Denver school board. Anderson made history in 2019 when he became the youngest Black elected official in Colorado. Prior to his candidacy, Anderson worked within his community as an activist and local organizer for racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Nimo Omar — Nimo Omar is a student activist based in Minnesota, where she has been involved in grassroots organizing for many years. She is best known for her role in helping local Amazon workers, many of whom were Somali immigrants, organize their workplace. Omar previously co-founded The Atwood Center, a nonprofit geared towards East African economic and political empowerment.
Brea Baker — Brea Baker is a writer, communications strategist, and organizer who works as a strategist for leading changemakers, helping influencers, advocacy organizations, and media companies execute their social impact strategies. Previously, Baker served as the youngest national organizer of the 2017 Women’s March and helped organize national walkouts against gun violence in 2017.
Omari Hardy 31 — Omari Hardy is currently serving in the Florida House of Representatives, representing District 88 of West Palm Beach. Hardy is a fourth-generation educator, former union member, and advocate for higher teachers’ salaries, tuition-free college, and the expansion of broadband access across Florida.
Nancy Metayer — Nancy Metayer is an environmental scientist and former member of the Broward County Soil and Water Conservation District. She is currently serving as Commissioner in Coral Springs, Fla., where she works towards making the city a leader in sustainability.
Symone Sanders — Symone Sanders is a communications professional and political strategist who recently served as Communications Director and Senior Advisor to Joe Biden on his 2020 Presidential campaign. She previously worked as the National Press Secretary for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 Presidential campaign. Sanders now serves in the Biden-Harris Administration as a Senior Advisor and Chief Spokesperson for Vice President Kamala Harris.