By Winnie Gaturu
Forbes 30 under 30 list was started back in 2011 to recognize 600 business and industry figures all under the age of 30. Out of thousands of nominees this year, Marley Dias is one of the few people who landed on the list. At the age of 13, she is the youngest, but that doesn’t mean that her achievements are negligible.
Marley Dias has always loved reading. At the age of eleven, back in 2016, she realized that most of the books she was reading were mainly about “white boys and dogs.” This bothered her deeply and she did what most kids do, that is, vent about it to her mother. Well, as it turns out, a solution came to mind. It was the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign.
The #1000BlackGirlBook campaign collects books with black female protagonists in a bid to promote a more inclusive reading in the education system. The books collected have since been donated to different organizations around the world. Two years after its inception, the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign has surpassed its goal by collecting more than ten thousand books. It is also what landed Marley Dias on the Forbes 30 under 30 2018 list. Her accomplishments are nothing short of amazing and that’s why we are proud of her.
For Marley, the first sign of change happened in her old elementary school. As a result of her campaign, One Crazy Summer (by Rita Williams Garcia), was chosen as the book for all the fifth graders in the school to read. The books she collects are also donated to schools and libraries with low resources. This way, they stock up on books and also get to promote inspiring conversations around those books since they cast black characters in a different light. At the moment, books with black characters and protagonists only make up a measly 11% of all children’s books. That’s why Marley hopes to break this monotony and have more books representing a wide array of diversity and culture.
Apart from the books campaign, Marley has made several notable achievements in her life even though she is only 13. So far, she has volunteered in a Ghanaian orphanage, won a Disney Friends for Change grant and even written her own book, Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You! The book serves as a guide for children, encouraging them to make a positive change through activism, community involvement and inclusion. Although she loves writing, she admits that she didn’t think that she would write a book at her current age. However, she found it necessary to share her journey so far and inspire other young kids and age mates to believe in themselves and strive to achieve what they are passionate about. Her book is also aimed at helping kids organize their own campaigns.
Despite her achievements, Marley Dias still wants to be viewed as a normal teenager. She wants people to know that she is a real person and has her high and low moments. For now, her main focus is collecting as many books as possible and seeing more black women portrayed as the main protagonists instead of sidekicks.
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