As we rang in the new year, we also checked in on a few AWTT portrait subjects, to learn what they have been up to during the past year. Good trouble, we’re happy to report.
Now a third year political science and environmental studies major at Northeaster University, Amara Ifeji continues to serve as a role model for other young activists. She was recognized with two awards in 2022. First, a Browser Youth Award from the Earth Island Institute, for “bringing new voices into the environmental movement.” Among her many notable accomplishments, Ifeji is commended for coordinating Maine’s “first-ever climate education summit focused on hearing young people’s vision for a climate-literate Maine” and for helping to “create and implement a bill that funds more than $2 million for climate education in the state.” Ifeji was also named as one of Grist magazine’s Grist 50 for 2022 – a list of “emerging leaders in climate, equity, and sustainability. . . . The 50 visionaries on this year’s list are regular people who also happen to be sustainability stars. . . . Simply put, these are ordinary people who are achieving extraordinary things. Around here we call them Fixers, because they’re not afraid to face problems head-on and work toward just solutions.” . . . “And they’re just getting started.”
Meanwhile, journalist Naomi Klein continues to play her critical role in addressing the climate crisis. With young activists like Ifeji in mind, Klein authored her latest book How to Change Everything: A Young Human’s Guide to Protecting the Planet and Each Other. Initially published in 2021, the book came out in paperback this year and is being translated into over fifteen languages. “Full of empowering stories of youth all over the world who are already taking action for climate justice, young readers will find inspiration to make their own voices heard to protect the natural world that is their inheritance. This information-packed book offers young readers a comprehensive look at the state of the climate today and how we got here — and how they can help shape what happens next.”
Another member of Klein’s generation of truth tellers, Bryan Stevenson, continues to accelerate his work around racial justice. Don’t miss his appearance on the Netflix series Live to Lead, where Stevenson reflects on the influence of his grandmother and, in his usual understated style, tells the powerful stories of wrongly incarcerated black people. Rather than posing as their savior, Stevenson articulates how and why they inspire him. Stevenson also kept a full schedule of school and university appearances in 2022, spreading word of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) to the next generation . And, taking this to the next level, in March 2022, Stevenson was appointed as NYU University Professor. “Stevenson intends to use his University Professorship to expand on the work that EJI does, developing a health initiative with a focus on rural poverty and the health care needs of people coming out of jails and prisons in the Black Belt of Alabama. In doing so, Stevenson expects to work with graduate and professional students and alumni in a range of fields, including medicine, nursing, public policy, social work, and business, as well as law. Stevenson also plans to create pathways for graduates and students in various programs and schools to help them become directly involved in racial justice, anti-poverty, and health equity work.”
Another young AWTT portrait subject, Alicia Garza, has also been on the move. As calendar year comes to an end, Garza and her organization the Black Futures Lab are wrapping up their major Black Census Project 2022. “The information gathered from the Black Census will be used to identify priority issues for our communities, inform public policy, and shape an agenda created for us, by us.” Garza continues to spread the messages of her 2020 book The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart, including this recent interview with Valerie Goode, of the San Francisco Foundation, where Garza shares heartfelt and insightful reflections for young activists. And tune into Alicia’s regular podcast Lady Don’t Take No “for people who like their political commentary with a side of beauty recommendations. It’s her tribute to the Bay Area’s unique way of getting things done. Garza will divulge her hot takes on everything from why Fenty Beauty saves lives, to how to handle microaggressions at the airport. Every Friday, Lady Don’t Take No will deliver all the real, and none of the fake. Why? Because Lady. Don’t. Take. No.”