FACES Magazine: 5 Young Activists who are Changing the World

Five Young Activists Who Are Changing the World in FACES Magazine by Rebecca Pitts

I’m thrilled to share that my first feature for FACES Magazine was just published in the January, 2019 issue. Back in early 2018 I made a publication wish-list for the year and FACES was one of a handful of magazines and newspapers on that list. It’s a good feeling when goals on paper materialize into bylines (also on paper!).

The pic in this post is a snapshot of my journal entry made in response to the original call for pitches. (To be clear, I eventually turned this into a proper email with an outline and bibliography, and many of the original ideas for potential sources evolved as I dug into the research.)

When I stumbled on Blair Imani and her new book, Modern Her Story online, I knew I had to talk to her. Blair is a Black, bisexual, and Muslim activist and is committed to sharing the diverse, intersectional stories of womanhood in her work.

In my reporting, I learned about the work Blair did in Maasai Mara, Kenya coaching young girls who were the first in their families to attend school. I was able to take her American story and present it within the context of another culture that is very different than the Western world.

Blair told me about being embraced by the Maasai people. Her connectedness with them was personally meaningful to her as a Black American who, in her words, “doesn’t have the benefit of knowing where my ancestors come from because of slavery.”

I also knew I wanted to include one of the founders of Zero Hour, the environmental justice organization that launched climate marches this past summer. Around the time I filed the piece, this very bleak report on the future of our planet was published.

And then, a glimmer of hope: “This is going to be the Great Society, the moonshot, the civil rights movement of our generation,” said Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, U.S. Representative of Congress just after her election to serve as a Congresswoman representing a district in New York.

The conservation of our planet and human life will be the greatest challenge of the youngest generation alive today. I hope and believe it will be their greatest accomplishment as well.

While speaking with Zanagee Artis, one of the founders of Zero Hour, he told me how the organization is committed to electing climate champions, all while centering under-represented voices in their work and advocacy for environmental justice. There are many adults today who can learn from the way that Zero Hour is organizing — with equality and equity top of mind.

It was an honor to chat with Blair Imani, author of Modern Her Story, and Zanagee Artis, founder of Zero Hour. A huge thank you to both of them for taking the time to share their stories with children for this very special issue of FACES.