The Root, the premier news and culture publication for black America, is proud to unveil its 2018 class of Young Futurists, a distinction reserved for the best and brightest young African Americans, ages 15 to 22. The seventh edition of the annual list shines a light on the efforts and achievements of 25 rising stars in the fields of social justice and activism, arts and culture, enterprise and corporate innovation, science and technology, and green innovation. This collection of game changers serves as a source of pride and optimism for black Americans.
“If history has taught us anything, it’s that young people will always lead the way. The 25 people who make up this year’s list of Young Futurists also are not content to let adults determine their future. At a time when there is a void in leadership in Washington, D.C., and beyond, these Young Futurists are stepping up to show the world that, regardless of their age, they are ready and willing to lead the way,” said the editors of The Root.
The Young Futurists class of 2018 recognizes talent from various walks of life:
Maame Biney, 18, moved to the U.S. from Ghana as a young child. This year, she became the first black woman to qualify for a U.S. Olympic speed skating team, showing young female skaters that black women can compete at the highest level.
Storm Reid, 15 in July, starred in Ava DuVernay’s iteration of “A Wrinkle in Time,” playing the role of teenage protagonist Meg Murray. In both the 1962 fantasy novel and 2003 TV movie that preceded the film, her character had been portrayed as white. Her performance provided inspiration for millions of black children.
George Hofstetter, 17, used his technological acumen to create a mobile app that helps young people combat police brutality. The Oakland teen’s solution, called CopStop, allows users to record their interactions with police and offers educational information on how to interact with law enforcement.
Ose Arheghan, 17, has spent the past two years lobbying in both their home state of Ohio and Washington for comprehensive sexual education that is inclusive of LGBTQ youth. Arheghan, who uses gender-neutral pronouns, is challenging conservative legislators to serve all of their constituents, regardless of gender identity or orientation.
Ashanti Martinez, 21, is running for a seat in Maryland’s House of Delegates with a platform made up of “bold progressive policies.” His priorities include reform of the state’s education system and standing up for marginalized communities.
The Young Futurists class of 2018 also includes:
- Sasha Ariel Alston, 20 – Author and STEM advocate
- Thessalonika Arzu-Embry, 19 – Author and aspiring aviation psychologist
- Seun Babalola, 20 – Social justice activist
- Keila Banks, 16 – Coding advocate
- Victoria Barrett, 18 – Environmental activist
- Zandra Cunningham, 17 – Cosmetics entrepreneur
- Tamir D. Harper, 18 – Education advocate
- Tamera Jacobs, 20 – Environmental activist
- Chanice Lee, 15 – Social justice activist and author
- Quil Lemons, 20 – Photographer and activist
- Eva Lewis, 19 – Social justice activist
- Myles Loftin, 19 – Photographer and activist
- Juliet Lubwama, 17 – Poet
- Victor Madu, 21 – Fashion entrepreneur
- Essynce Moore, 15 – Entrepreneur and author
- La’Taijah Powell, 21 – Nutrition activist
- Journi Prewitt, 17 – Entrepreneur
- Taylor Richardson, 15 in July – Fundraiser and aspiring astronaut
- Matthew Whitaker, 16 – Pianist
- Reece Whitley, 18 – Swimmer