There is no denying that 2016 has been a tough year so we think it’s safe to say, we’re ready for it to be over. Seriously, with so many scary news stories on our social media timelines — from near and far, it’s hard to remember if anything good even happened this year. But 2016 wasn’t that bad. OK, it kinda was, but we did have a few moments of hope; moments that inspired us, and gave us a little push forward. Many of these moments were made possible by the tireless work of activists and movements all over the world. Reminding us that despite all the hate and tragedy there is still good in the world because there are people who are determined to bring real, lasting change.
We are lucky! If you need a little inspiration going into 2017, we recommend getting to know these 8 incredible activists.
1 Johnetta “Netta” Elzie
Possibly the very epitome of #BlackGirlMagic and a strong voice of the new civil rights movement, Johnetta “Netta” Elzie is one to watch. Netta helped to create Campaign Zero — a step-by-step plan to reform the criminal justice system in America. She also played a major role in the Black Lives Matter movement and organized resistance in Ferguson after Mike Brown’s murder.
2 Sonita Alizadeh
While living in Afghanistan, Sonita Alizadeh’s parents tried to marry her off two times before her 16th birthday. While this practice isn’t uncommon, Sonita wasn’t having it! She channeled her outrage into her music and created an entire movement that fights against child marriages. Sonita now lives in the US and continues to spread awareness on the subject.
3 Kris Hayashi
As a public transgender person of color, Kris Hayashi has been a leader in the fight for justice and rights for transgender and gender nonconforming communities for over 13 years. In 2015, Kris became Executive Director at Transgender Law Center, one of the largest organizations in the country advancing the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming people.
4 DeRay McKesson
Statistics show that in the US, unarmed black men are significantly more likely to be shot and killed by police than unarmed white men. Like Netta and everyone else on our list, DeRay McKesson is determined to bring change. He’s the co-founder of www.wetheprotesters.org and a major player in the fight for social justice and combatting police brutality.
5 Janet Mock
As a bestselling author, LGBT activist, and trans woman of color — Janet Mock uses her platform to advocate for the rights of transgender people and spread awareness about the issues they face.
6 Black Lives Matter: Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors
Bonus: 3-for-1! These three women are credited for the creation of the Black Lives Matter movement. Black Lives Matter (BLM) is an international activist movement, originating in the African-American community that campaigns against violence toward black people. In the summer of 2013, after George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the death of Trayvon Martin, the movement began with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.
7 Asieh Amini
In Iran, women and girls are often stoned to death if they’ve had sex outside of marriage, even if they are raped. Asieh Amini was a reporter for a regional newspaper in Iran when she first learned of this. She quickly jumped to action and dedicated her life to fighting this terrible practice. By raising awareness, Asieh has saved the lives on many women. Asieh has received so many threats that she had to leave Iran but now continues her work in Norway. She remains courageous in her fight.
8 Dan Savage
Dan Savage created the It Gets Better Project to help prevent suicide among LGBT youths. The project went viral resulting in thousands of videos of encouragement for teenagers, including many by prominent LGBT celebrities.
We do hope you’ve found a little bit of inspiration. There’s so much to be done and if we come together there is nothing we can’t do. It’s never too late to get involved, maybe think about adding that to your list of resolutions!