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20 Black Detroiters Making History 2022

Detroit’s Black History is astounding. Black Detroiters have been on the forefront of the movements, art, culture, and ingenuity that we and the nation at-large celebrate in February and all year round.

We want to show the future of Detroit’s Black History.

In 2021, The Skillman Foundation first asked the community-at-large for examples of Black youth excellence that makes the world a better place. The campaign was so popular that we have decided to do it every year. This year, we received dozens of nominations of young, Black Detroiters who are doing incredible work in their communities.

Below, we honor young people engaged in service, organizing, leadership, and support in their communities and who are making Black History.

1. Alexis Bagley

Age: 23

Alexis is a talented artist and graphic designer who mentors and supports young creatives through Mint Artists Guild.

2. Breanna Smith

Age: 20

Breanna is a fierce community advocate for COVID-19 vaccinations and helped neighborhood residents learn more about the vaccine and its benefits.

3. Brittyn Benjamin-Kelley

Age: 17

Brittyn is a champion of youth mental health and spearheads mental health initiatives at Detroit Area Youth United Michigan.

4. Carlito Smith

Age: 21

A musician and artist, Carlito creates music to uplift his community and marched for Black Lives in 2020.

5. Chase Wade

Age: 17

As the executive director of MOCAD’s Teen Council, Chase guides new artists and creates events and exhibitions that highlight youth voices.

6. Curtis Bates

Age: 20

Curtis co-produced and hosted Detroit’s first-ever Youth Summit in partnership with the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University.

7. Emerson Jeffries & Jecholiah Marriott

Ages: 18 & 16

Emerson and Jecholiah helped to develop and advocate for an Online Learning Bill of Rights to ensure Detroit students could learn effectively and justly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

8. Ethan Kent

Age: 14

As a member of Communities First, Inc.’s Making A Difference program, Ethan’s work focuses on promoting civic and social involvement and connecting residents to healthy food options.

9. Jamarria Hall

Age: 22

One of the plaintiffs in Michigan’s right-to-literacy lawsuit, Jamarria continues to advocate for educational justice across the state.

10. Janiell Tyus

Age: 24

After graduating from college, Janiell returned to her alma mater, Western International High School, to serve as a mentor and advisor for students interested in college.

11. Jeremiah Green

Age: 17

As a volunteer for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan’s Passport to Manhood program, Jeremiah acts as a positive male role model to young men across Detroit.

12. Jurmel Mitchell

Age: 12

Jurmel works with the Association for the Advancement of Deaf/ Hard of Hearing (AADHH) to provide lawn care and home repair services to Detroit’s deaf and hard-of-hearing residents.

13. King Bethel

Age: 15

In 2021, King called on state representatives to advocate for better resource distribution and community development work in areas across the state.

14. Madison Reeves

Age: 14

Madison assists members of her community by volunteering with the Gleaners mobile grocery store and provides seniors with regular access to fresh and healthy foods.

15. Noah Harris

Age: 10

Noah is a literacy champion, donating books to local kids, sponsoring reading challenges in Detroit, and hosting online reading events.

16. Ragine Head

Age: 24

Ragine spent 2020 doing community outreach for both Census completion and voter registration and engagement efforts.

17. Robin Elliott

Age: 17

A champion of LGBTQIA+ students, Robin started a Gay-Straight Alliance organization at their school.

18. Sara Collins

Age: 17

As a volunteer for Life Remodled’s Youth Alliance, Sara engages young people and creates events to promote community development and pride.

19. Sharon Kimbrough

Age: 16

Sharon is the president of the Eastside Community Network’s Youth Center, The Vault, where she connects young people to community resources and hosts online events for youth.

20. Skye Morris

Age: 15

Skye co-created INFoUs Magazine, a local publication that shares youth voices and perspectives on key issues.

Do you know any young Black Detroiters making history? Share their stories in the comments below.

The Skillman Foundation

A voice for children since 1960, The Skillman Foundation is a private philanthropy that serves as a fierce champion of Detroit children. The Foundation works to ensure Detroit youth achieve their highest aspirations by strengthening K-12 public education, afterschool learning opportunities, and college and career pathways.

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