How Young Public Speakers are Shaping Our Future

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For centuries, public speaking has long been used as a powerful tool to inspire change and start movements that shape our reality. Today, young speakers leverage their voices to tackle global issues ranging from climate change to social justice to education. Today, I’ll be introducing you to 5 young public speakers you might not have heard of before who are making positive changes in our world today.

  1. Marley Dias: In November 2015, an 11-year-old girl named Marley Dias started an online campaign called #1000BlackGirlBooks with the goal of collecting and donating 1000 books that featured Black girls as the protagonists. Since then, she has worked as an activist fighting for minority representation in books for children and young adults, and she also wrote a book called Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You! 
    1. 11-year-old holds book drive for stories about black girls
    2. Marley Dias at Children’s Literature Day 2018 
    3. Teenage activist Marley Dias on the trailblazer who inspired her
  2. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez: As a teenager, Martinez gave TED talks about his work on climate change action. In June 2015, he gave a speech in front of the UN General Assembly about climate change, and he has since given other speeches on the effects of climate change, especially on marginalized communities. He is also a hip hop artist who has used music to spread his message.
    1. Hip-Hop Environmental Activism: Xiuhtezcatl Martinez at TEDxYouth@MileHigh 
    2. Xiuhtezcatl, Indigenous Climate Activist at the High-level event on Climate Change 
    3. Xiuhtezcatl on how to stand up for what you believe in | The Adulthood
    4. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez – Youth Leadership | Bioneers
  3. Amanda Gorman: Gorman first became a household name when she read her poem “The Hill We Climb” for Joe Biden’s 2021 inauguration, making her the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history and the first National Youth Poet Laureate. As a poet and activist, she focuses on topics like oppression, feminism, and race. 
    1. WATCH: Amanda Gorman reads inauguration poem, ‘The Hill We Climb’
    2. Amanda Gorman: Using your voice is a political choice | TED
    3. Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman offers words of hope amid pandemic
  4. Royce Mann: Royce Mann is an activist and poet who in May 2016, performed a poem called “White Boy Privilege,” which quickly went viral. His talks focus on social inequality, race and gender, and white privilege. 
    1. Royce Mann, Age 14, “White Boy Privilege”, Slam Poem
    2. Royce Mann Drops Poetry From The NEXUS USA Summit 2018 Stage
    3. After Atlanta school board race, Emory sophomore looks to future
    4. Teen’s ‘White Boy Privilege’ slam poetry goes viral 
  5. Isra Hirsi: Isra Hirsi, daughter of U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, an environmental activist. She founded the U.S. Youth Climate Strike and in 2020, she was named on Fortune’s 40 under 40 Government and Politics list. 
    1. The Angry Black Girl | Isra Hirsi | TEDxWakeForestU
    2. Representative Ilhan Omar’s Daughter Takes On Climate Change | NBC News Now
    3. Ilhan Omar’s Daughter, Isra Hirsi, Is 16 and Saving the Planet
    4. Isra Hirsi, 2019 Brower Youth Awards   

With each step they take to shape their generation’s future, these speakers are demonstrating the power of speeches to change our perspectives, to rally people to their causes, and even to shape public policy (the laws that we must follow in our daily lives). Anyone, regardless of background or age, can make a meaningful impact in the world. These young speakers can inspire us to build brighter futures for ourselves and our communities.

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