Each year during Black History Month, as The Root recognizes and celebrates the great accomplishments of our forebears, we believe it is also important to recognize and celebrate the young African-American men and women who are forging a path to future greatness.
We call them Young Futurists, and we are pleased to introduce our 2014 Young Futurists class, so that you can share the pride and joy we feel at their achievements.
They come to us with glowing recommendations from teachers, mentors, advisers, employers and associates. The superlatives flow about their intellect, unwavering commitment, fervent passion and tireless energy. They are wise beyond their years—ages 16 to 22—and have already distinguished themselves in the fields of social activism and justice, enterprise and corporate innovation, science and technology, green innovation and arts and culture.
Take Jasmine Lawrence, who started a million-dollar hair-care business at age 13 when she couldn’t find a way to manage her own curls. Or 16-year-old Thomas Hill, who turned his critical observations about life and race into searing and award-winning poetry. Then there’s 18-year-old James Martin, who recalls being a lazy kid, but is already a college graduate working alongside a Nobel laureate, on his way to becoming a molecular biologist. Tafari John-King saw unhealthy food all around his Brooklyn, N.Y., neighborhood and figured out a way to go green and healthy. And Brianna Patterson, who lives to serve, with her outreach work on behalf of homeless kids at the National Action Network.
With these emerging leaders, our future is in good hands.
During this Black History Month, when we remember all that we have endured and all that’s been sacrificed, our Young Futurists are reminders of the stirring words of Maya Angelou in her poem Still I Rise.
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
The Root’s 2014 Young Futurists are the hope and the dream. They rise.
Lyne Pitts is managing editor of The Root.