8 Black Youth Climate Activists You Need to Know

Jennifer Gonzalez

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June 8, 2020

8 Black Youth Activists

We stand in solidarity with those directly affected by the escalating police violence. We stand in solidarity with the Black youth in our network; we are committed to listening to and amplifying your voices, and to staying the course with you in the interconnected fights for racial justice and climate justice. It is with hope that we continue to believe in the leadership of young people to transform our future into one where we can all live in dignity.

Climate activists Isaac Smith, Khristen Hamilton, Dillon Bernard, Nyaruot Nguany, Jerome Foster II, Amari Jackson, Nia Smith, and Vic Barrett are using their voices to speak up for racial justice. Read their stories below.

1. Issac Smith, ACE Action Fellow

Image of Issac Smith, ACE Action Fellow

“I am an African-American student living in a society where being African-American puts me at risk to suffer from environmental racism. I use my platform and identity to focus my climate work on other minority communities suffering from the same form of racism.”

2. Khristen Hamilton, Zero Hour

Image of Khristen Hamilton, Zero Hour

” I am fighting in the climate movement because women that look like me are going to be the most impacted. Social justice is environmental justice and if we don’t acknowledge that then we truly cannot fight climate change properly. The global south and low income communities are going to be the most affected by climate change so we must involve them as much as we can in climate planning.”

3. Dillon Bernard, Future Coalition

Image of Dillon Bernard, Future Coalition

“My identity is consistently the core of why I do my work in climate. With my lived experiences in mind, I strive to amplify the stories of people often left out of climate conversations. My main focus is often on ensuring that the topic of climate is consistently localized and broken down to reach and engage a wide-ranging audience, including people of color who are on the frontlines of the climate crisis.”

4. Nyaruot Nguany, Maine Environmental Changemakers Network

Image of Nyaruot Nguany, Maine Environmental Changemakers Network

“My identity and my activism are intersectional. Activism to me is not only rooted in climate work, but also social justice and youth leadership. As a young black woman who is also an immigrant I didn’t have much representation growing up in Maine. My life’s work is to continue to make this a sustainable and just world to live in, which has more to do with humanity than activism.”

5. Jerome Foster II, Onemillionofus, The Climate Reporter

Image of Jerome Foster II, Onemillionofus, The Climate Reporter

“In recent years youth-led organizations have really taken steps to center the voices of people of color, however we still need more people of color in the climate movement because the climate crisis is directly impacting people of color. I am a climate justice activist which means that I advocate for solutions to the climate crisis that factor racial and gender equity into the conversation.”

6. Amari Jackson, Sunrise Movement

Image of Amari Jackson, Sunrise Movement

“My identity informs my work by having such a rich history of where the struggle has been to where it is now. It keeps me motivated to know that I owe it to my ancestors to be empowered and use that to empower others. I see how far we’ve come, knowing that more work is left to do. We have the complete power to stand up and create a world takes care of all of us, not just a world catering to greedy needs of those on top.”

7. Nia Smith, One Up Action

Image of Nia Smith, One Up Action

“Young people should not be afraid to get involved. There are people willing to give us the space to make ourselves heard. It’s just a matter of finding those connections. Even if you can’t find the space to use your voice, make it. Force people to notice you.”

8. Vic Barrett, ACE Staff, Youth V. Gov

Image of Vic Barrett, ACE Staff, Youth V. Gov

“I have the historic resilience of my people to motivate me to push through these struggles in order to defend the next generation from institutional injustice such as environmental racism.”

Want to read more? Check out the ACE Blog.

Jennifer Gonzalez

Jennifer Gonzalez

Director of Storytelling

Jennifer is the Director of Storytelling at ACE where she leads ACE's storytelling work and produces videos that inspire climate action among youth. Based in Los Angeles, she holds a M.S. in Professional Media Management and Digital Documentary as well as a B.S. in Journalism from Southern Illinois University. She likes biking, gardening and going to baseball games and soccer matches.

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