Greta Thunberg is the trailblazing climate change activist on everyone’s lips at the moment, and rightly so. Principled, impassioned and brave, her insistence on speaking truth to power has put the climate crisis on the front pages and has inspired millions around the globe to take action.
But Greta isn’t the only activist making their mark right now. Across the globe, hundreds of inspirational young people are tackling issues in fearless ways. From a rapper speaking out against child brides to a DJ getting London’s youth up on their feet, here are a few amazing activists you need to follow now…
Befeqadu Hailu is an Ethiopian writer and activist who has covered many examples of brutality and human rights violations carried out by the Ethiopan state. His novel, Children of Their Parents, won the 2012 Burt Award for African Literature, but Hailu was thrown behind bars for his writing, charged with ‘terrorism’.
At the time, he stated: “an artist, in my understanding of the word, should side with the people against the Emperor that oppresses his or her people.” He continued to write from behind bars and is now defending himself on the downgraded charge of ‘inciting violence through writing.’ He was recently named International Writer of Courage by the PEN Pinter Prize Ceremony.
ዘመኑ የኔና የዐቢይ አሕመድ ነው። 🙂 Thank you all of you, tweeps and friends, for your overwhelming congratulatory messages. I owe you all. pic.twitter.com/glHY2uWFKY
— 𝙱𝚎𝚏𝚎𝚀𝚊𝚍𝚞 𝚉. 𝙷𝚊𝚒𝚕𝚞 (@befeqe) October 11, 2019
Sonita Alizdeh is an Afghan rapper and activist who speaks out against forced marriages – an ongoing problem in her place of birth. She gained attention for her Brides for Sale video, where she raps about daughters being sold into marriage. She documented her remarkable story in the film Sonita, where she filmed her escape from a marriage her parents were planning for her. In 2015 she was listed as one of the BBC’s 100 women.
Charlie Dark is a DJ, poet and mentor who founded Run Dem Crew in 2006 as a running club for people who didn’t consider themselves runners. Run Dem Crew has grown from a casual run around the neighbourhood with friends to an organisation committed to uplifting young people and presenting London’s urban areas as safe, unique, positive and supportive environments.
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So hold on, you mean the life I dreamt about as a kid is actually happening right now…. Let me embrace the life manifested and take a moment everyday to give a little smile of gratitude and enjoy the now instead of focusing on a past that can not be changed and a future that hasn’t happened…. #rundem #rundemcrew #pma #positivementalattitude
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is an indigenous environmental activist and hip hop artist currently based in Colorado. Since he was 6, Martinez has fought bravely for climate protections, and gave three TED talks when he was still a teenager on the UN’s climate change policy.
He’s particularly focused on the devastating impact climate change will have upon indigenous and marginalised communities, and is one of 21 plaintiffs involved in the Juliana v. United States case, suing the US federal government for failing to act on climate change.
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My life has been shaped by the stories my elders and family have carried with them and passed onto me. Stories of ceremony and spirits, of love and pain, of our culture and creation. Telling our stories is a part of our cultural survival, an act of resistance, and an act of love. . Most my life, other people have told my story, pushed and pulled the narrative of who I am and what I do in many directions. Mi Primo @josue_foto and his work to empower sovereign story telling in Indian country has helped me so much in finding the courage to tell my own story. . @standing_strong_project works to empower native stories and challenge the paradigm of photography and images being something we take or capture, to something we create together. This photo that Josue and I made is living on a wall at 124 SW 1st Ave in downtown Portland. . Written on it is piece of a poem my elders taught me, that represents the legacy of our ancestors I’m fighting to pass on. Reclaiming public spaces with indigenous faces and stories. Show the world that we are still here. And we are sovereign beings that are carrying on the work of our elders to shape our future ⚔️
Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny (born 2007), also known as Little Miss Flint, is a youth activist from Flint, Michigan. She is best known for raising awareness about Flint’s ongoing water crisis – whereby Flint River water was treated improperly, causing lead from old pipes to leak into and contaminate the water supply. She is currently fundraising to support the underprivileged children in the area.
When she was just 8, it was her letter to Barack Obama that drew attention to the huge water crisis in her hometown. Obama responded with a letter in which he said “kids like you are what makes me optimistic about the future,” and eventually authorised $100 million to help fix the crisis.
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Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny is probably the busiest 10-year-old we know.⠀ ⠀ Mari, also known as Little Miss Flint, partnered with the nonprofit organization Pack Your Back on Sunday for a school supply distribution in her hometown of Flint, Michigan. ⠀ ⠀ Students within the city of #Flint, which still faces long-term public health issues due to its ongoing water crisis, have a serious need for school supplies. So Mari stepped up to the plate. ⠀ ⠀ “I wanted to make sure kids got the best start possible to the school year and for their parents to not have to worry about having to buy supplies,” Mari told HuffPost. ⠀ ⠀ Last year, Mari started the #PackYourBackChallenge on Twitter and was able to fill 100 backpacks with school supplies. She saw 10 times that amount this year.⠀ ⠀ Organizers were able to distribute more than 1,000 backpacks to every single student that came to the event. Mari also raised around $10,000 online.⠀ ⠀ @phil.lews for HuffPost⠀ 📷 Loui Brezzell ⠀ #blackgirlmagic
Annie Elainey is a YouTuber, artist, and activist for LGBT and disability rights, located in Miami. Elainey, who herself is queer and disabled, advocates for accessibility, body positivity, and better representation of margianalised communities in the media. She often speaks at schools on the subject of body positivity, and frequently vlogs about her recovery from an eating disorder.
Melati & Isabel Wijsen
These super sisters founded the ‘Bye Bye Plastic Bags’ initiative in 2013 in Bali, Indonesia. Since then, it’s grown into a huge youth-led organisation that continues to fight single use plastics. The girls were instrumental in pushing Bali to declare themselves a plastic bag free island. The girls continue to fight for plastic regulations globally; Indonesia has since announced plans to go plastic bag free by 2021.