February is Black History Month! While we celebrate those who have made significant contributions to the African-American community in the past, there are a few pint-sized powerhouses that deserve to be recognized for the contributions to our society that they are making right now.
Also known as “Little Miss Flint,” Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny is a youth activist from Flint, Michigan. At the age of 8, she wrote a letter to President Obama in order to draw attention to the Flint Water Crisis that was being overlooked in her hometown. President Obama responded to her and said that “letters from kids like you are what makes me so optimistic about the future.” In turn, he visited Flint and consequently declared a federal state of emergency in January 2016 and authorized $100 million to fix the crisis. She currently still advocates for the town of Flint and its water crisis, as well as participates in many different initiatives such as community fundraising for underprivileged families and organizing anti-bullying programs in her local schools. She also started a GoFundMe campaign which raised more than $16,000 to provide hundreds of low-income children the opportunity to see the Black Panther movie, with the intent to provide the majority audience of Black children with aspirations and a positive self-image.
When he found out that his school was planning to be shut down, 9-year-old Asean gave an impassioned speech during protests regarding the closing of 54 Chicago public schools. In his speech he mentions, “You should be investing in these schools, not closing them. You should be supporting these schools, not closing them … We shall not be moved today. We’re going to city hall … We are not going down without a fight.” He continues to fight for the children of Chicago, as well as children all over the country. He also has spoken in Washington D.C. against gun violence and racial inequality and was even part of Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. Asean is currently still in high school, but President of the Chicago Teacher’s Union Karen Lewis endorses him for mayor in 2025 – when he turns 21-years-old.
Marley set out to diversify the kind of books in her school library because she felt that she couldn’t relate to any of them. She felt that her school only had “a bunch of books about white boys and their dogs.” At just 11-years-old, she started the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign with the goal to collect and donate 1,000 books that feature black girls as the main character. She has collected over 9,000 books thus far, but became frustrated when she saw just how few books there were featuring black girls. In 2018, she wrote and published her own book titled, Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You! at the age of 13. She won Smithsonian Magazine’s American Ingenuity Award in the Youth category, as well as became Elle.com’s youngest editor.
At just 11 years old, Elijah became the youngest person to receive a full scholarship to Southern University in Louisiana. He is a Physics and Mechanical Engineering double major at this historically Black university, and is currently in his second year of school. Not only is he a full-time student, but he is also a published author and has applied for five patents for his inventions. As of 2020, 12-year-old Elijah is set to appear in and help produce Cartoon Network’s new Drawn To series, a show that was developed to inspire young adults to help others by identifying and committing to different fields of study that they are drawn to. He is also set to publish his second book this year titled, A Prodigy, My Story at Southern University and Agricultural & Mechanical College, Year One.
Marsai was cast in the ABC comedy Series Black-ish at the age of 10, and has since been a highly awarded actress. At the age of 13, she was cast the lead role in the feature film comedy Little. She was made executive producer of the film in 2019, making her the youngest person in Hollywood to ever produce a movie. She founded her production company Genius Productions, making her the youngest person to get a production deal with a major studio when she signed a first-look deal with Universal in 2019.