February 1 marked the beginning of Black History Month. We’re entering this month after what has been one of the most tumultuous periods in our country’s recent history. As we take the time to remember the history of the Civil Rights Movement, we must remember that the important victories we celebrate during Black History Month are not just in the distant past, and that we are not yet finished with the work that many historical heroes began.
Below, you’ll find a little bit of information about a handful of modern-day heroes who we have either just lost or who are still fighting to bring equality for all people in America. If you find any of these individuals especially intriguing, you can find out more about them by searching our catalog or by contacting us for assistance.
Stacey Abrams is a lawyer, politician, and activist in Georgia. She served on Georgia’s state House of Representatives from 2007 to 2017. In 2018 she ran for governor or Georgia in an election that involved some pretty major allegations of voter suppression. Though she lost the election, Abrams wasn’t deterred. In fact, if anything, she was inspired, and has worked diligently to fight voter suppression ever since. She started an organization called Fair Fight that has promotes voter participation and education throughout the country.
While less famous than the rest of the people on this list, Thandiwe Abdullah is also the youngest and has a bright future ahead of her. Thandiwe is 17 years old and has been an activist for as long as she can remember. In 2015 she and other youth leaders formed the Black Lives Matter Youth Vanguard, working for equality specifically for Black children, especially in schools. She is a recipient of Seventeen Magazine’s 2020 Voices of the Year award, and you can read more about her in their article about her from December of 2020.
Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi
Together, these three amazing women founded Black Lives Matter in 2013, after Trayvon Martin’s murder in 2012. The movement may have begun as a hashtag, but is now a full-fledged civil rights organization with more than 40 chapters nationwide. Patrisse Cullors is an artist and activist who uses her “art to reflect social spaces in ways that words fall flat.” Alicia Garza has spent her career as an activist and currently works with the National Domestic Workers Alliance. And Opal Tometi is an activist who lead the Black Alliance for Just Immigration before helping to start the Black Lives Matter movement.
We probably don’t need to tell you that Kamala Harris was just elected as the first female, first African-American, and first Asian-American Vice President. She’s spent her career as an attorney and elected official working toward equity in healthcare, criminal justice, immigration rights, and more. You can find out more about our new Vice President in a many recently published books. We especially recommend her autobiography The Truths We Hold (adapted for YA and teen readers), and Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea, a book about how Kamala and her sister were changing their world even as children.
John Lewis was born in 1940, and worked with Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement. He helped organize the March on Washington in 1963 (where King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech) and the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965. In 1986 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and continued to work for justice in our country until his death in July of 2020. He wrote 3 amazing graphic novels about the 1965 marches (check them out in our catalog) and never gave up fighting to make this country a better place for everyone.
These are just a small handful of heroes, but there are so, so many more people actively working today to end racism and inequality in our country. If you’re interested in learning more, check out some of the titles on our booklist below. Many of these are collective biographies – or books about lots of different people, all in one book – and some are about the antiracist movement in general. And as always, contact us at the library if you ever want more information or resources!