Altima Omara-Awala is a political strategist, activist and self-proclaimed feminist who was inspired to become a change agent by her own experience with politics in college, as an officer in Student Government.
“I became very optimistic after seeing people come to an agreement on what is better for people just in the microcosm that is student government, and I thought to myself, if this can be done here then this can be done in the real world,” she told FutureCivicLeaders.org.
Omara-Awala, the first African-American President of the Young Democrats of America, has staffed eight political campaigns and focuses on women’s rights, political empowerment, youth politics, health care and reproductive justice. She is a board member on Planet Parenthood Metro Washington DC, and when she isn’t organizing for reproductive justice she’s encouraging young voters to understand that their voices and opinions matter and helps to educate them on how they can get involved in major political events that affects their lives.
“Having a good understanding of the issues and a willingness to learn constantly as well as being very committed is key to overcoming obstacles that young people face in politics,” she told Future Civic Leaders.
The first generation daughter of African immigrants has a packed schedule in the name of promoting social change however she finds time to check in with the Gladiators on Twitter every Thursday night, when Scandal is on.
GET INVOLVED: The Young Democrats of America has chapters across the United States and encourage people who are passionate about advocacy, reaching out to elected officials and encouraging young people to get involved. Start by finding a chapter near you at YDA.org.
Ciara Taylor is tune with the legislative needs of Black and Brown Youth. She is the political director of Dream Defenders, a Florida-based organization founded two years ago by African-American and Hispanic youth, who want to change policies of discrimination that are impeding their goals and dreams. The organization has three main objectives according to its website:
1) To have a special session of the legislature discuss the Florida Stand Your Ground Act.
2) The re-examination of the zero tolerance policy for drugs in schools for youths.
3) To end the racial profiling.
Taylor leads these child activists using the knowledge and experience garnered in her previous work with the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the League of Women voters of Florida. She also currently works as campaign coordinator for the ACLU. Sounds like the next generation of Floridian political leaders is in excellent care.
GET INVOLVED: Dream Defenders has chapters in Tallahassee, Boca Raton, Tampa, Orlando, Gainesville and Miami. Campaigns include Trayvon’s Law, Justice For KJ and Youth Services International. Visit dreamdefenders.org for more information.
FOLLOW CIARA TAYLOR ON FACEBOOK: Facebook.com/Ciara.Taylor
Charlene Carruthers is a Chicago-based activist and organizer who describes herself as “living at the intersection of blackness, womanhood and discovery.” Her years of experience in online communications, policy analysis, program development, grassroots organizing and mobilization, at various organizations, like the Center for Community Change, the Women’s Media Center, ColorOfChange.org and National People’s Action, has led her to her current position as National Coordinator at Black Youth Project 100 (#BYP100).
BYP 100 is a member-based organization of 18 to 35-year-olds on a mission to create justice and racial equality. They have a track record of engaging in progressive dialogue between youth and police, reaching out to politicians and rallying for various causes.
As National Coordinator at BYP 100, Carruthers is charged with facilitating and developing programs and initiatives geared toward youth and program development.
GET INVOLVED: BYP 100 provides links to online resources where you can start your own petition, register to vote, contact your elected representatives, blog for change, organize your own rallies and more. They also keep it funky with a mix tape compilation of motivating songs by Rhymefest, Psalm One and other artists whose art makes a difference. Visit blackyouthproject.com to get started.
FOLLOW CHARLENE ON TWITTER: @CharleneCac