March on Washington: The Young Leaders

The next generation of rabble-rousers is keeping up the fight on many key civil rights issues.

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    National Action Network; Twitter; LinkedIn

    As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, it’s clear that while we’ve made strides, Americans have much more work to do in realizing Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream. From fighting social injustice and repealing “Stand your ground” to protecting the rights of women and the LGBT community, here’s a look at some of the young people and youth organizations on the front lines of pushing our nation forward.

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    Phil Agnew, Dream Defenders

    Agnew is the executive director of the Dream Defenders, the organization that famously occupied Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s office foyer until he was forced to meet with them. Their actions were sparked by the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin.

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    National Action Network

    Tamika Mallory, National Action Network

    As a member of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network organization since its 1991 inception, Mallory, 32, is the youngest national executive director in the group’s history. She’s tackled women’s issues, antiviolence, youth and young-adult advocacy and voter registration, and worked with the Obama administration as an advocate for civil rights issues, health care, gun violence and stop and frisk, a tent-pole of NAN’s activism.

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    Generational Alliance

    Carmen Berkley, Generational Alliance

    Berkley is the executive director of the Generational Alliance, a collaboration of two dozen youth organizations that form a majority of young people of color, women, LGBT and low-income communities. Boasting a history of activism, Berkeley has also made professional stops at the AFL-CIO, the AFSCME and the NAACP.

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    Zerlina Maxwell

    Meet Maxwell, the political and legal analyst who made headlines for saying don’t tell women how not to get raped, tell men not to rape. A contributor to Feministing and the New York Daily News, among others, Maxwell has weathered death threats and screaming matches on Twitter and consistently emerges as a fearless advocate for women’s rights, despite her enemies.

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    Maya Rupert, National Center for Lesbian Rights

    Rupert used her position as federal policy director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights to encourage President Obama on the dismissal of the Defense of Marriage Act. She was successful. Now she’s using her energies to fight workplace and housing discrimination in the LGBT community.

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    Screenshot from YouTube

    Asean Johnson

    When 9-year-old Johnson took the microphone during a protest against Chicago school closures, no one expected the tiny orator to be so eloquent and spot-on. Since that fateful day in May, Johnson has appeared on a number of news programs championing the idea that children of color in low-income neighborhoods deserve a chance to learn.

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    Sofia Campos, United We Dream

    Campos, board chair for the organization, works tirelessly to ensure those who are undocumented and might not even know it (she only found out she herself was undocumented while applying for college) can have access to fair immigration laws.

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    Jamira Burley, Philadelphia Youth Commission

    Burley, 24, is currently the youngest person to head her city’s Philadelphia Youth Commission. Previously the Student Leadership Coordinator for the School District of Philadelphia, she is best known for her work around violence prevention and intervention. She is also the first of 16 siblings to graduate high school and college, from Temple University.

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    Kid President

    Come on, Kid President counts! Robby Novak, 9, has tooled around the Oval Office with President Obama and reluctantly kissed Beyoncé on the check after chatting with the star about World Humanitarian Day. What have you done with your life?

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