6 BLACK TEENS WHO ARE CHANGING THE WORLD
Students led the largest pro-gun-control marches in history on March 25 at the March for Our Lives to demand that politicians protect people rather than the gun lobby. Hundreds of thousands of people from across the country flooded the streets of Washington, D.C., while 840 smaller demonstrations were held around the world in wake of the high school massacre that killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14.
In addition to the student activists of Parkland who organized March for Our Lives, a number of young people delivered powerful speeches at the protests, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 9-year-old granddaughter Yolanda Renee King and fifth grader Naomi Wadler. But these aren’t the only youth using their voices to make a difference in our world despite being under the legal drinking age. Here’s a list of five other amazing young talents who are changing humanity for the better through their hard work, innovative creations, and inspirational businesses.
SIBLINGS CREATE APP TO SAVE KIDS IN DISTRESS
Charlie and Hannah Lucas
Georgia-based teenpreneurs Charlie and Hannah Lucas launched a mobile app called notOK last month that makes it easy for youth in crisis to ask for help. Charlie, 13, told Black Enterprise that he was inspired to create the app from his older sister Hannah, who suffers from Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), a form of dysautonomia that causes increased heart rate when someone is standing. “It’s basically a condition that makes me pass out. Your autoimmune system attacks your body and that causes fatigue,” the 16-year-old explained.
Now, whenever Hannah isn’t feeling well at school, she opens the app and just taps the notOK button, which automatically sends out a text message that reads: “Hey, I’m not OK. Please call me, text me, or come find me,” along with a link to the current GPS location to five pre-selected contacts in her phone.
The teens are close to sealing their first round of venture capital.
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT DEVELOPS APP TO STOP POLICE BRUTALITY
(George with one of his mentors, Police Chief Jeff Tudor, and his sister, Joelle. Image: Johnathon Henninger)
At just 17 years old, George Hofstetter is an app developer who uses technology as a solution in addressing systemic ills like racism and violence. Hofstetter, who is a senior in a California high school, discovered his love for tech when he was 13. Since then, he created “Connect the Dots,” a platform to help black students at predominantly white private schools navigate racism on their campuses and launched his own tech company called George Hofstetter Technologies Inc. at 16.
His latest app is called CopStop, which is designed to protect people from police brutality and educate young people about best practices for staying safe while interacting with the police. The app also includes an option to film interactions with law enforcement, which George believes can serve as a viable alternative to body cameras.
TEENS LAUNCH YOUTH EMPOWERMENT TOUR
Essynce Moore and AJ Carr have teamed up to launch a national tour dedicated to inspiring, empowering, and educating thousands of elementary, middle, and high school students. The two 15 year olds say the purpose of the “Youth Empowerment Tour” is to empower and inspire the youth by discussing entrepreneurship and living your dreams, as well as, addressing bullying, self-esteem, and creating a forum where the youth can openly address the many issues that affect their communities, schools, and households every day.
Outside of the tour, Carr is an actor who appears on the hit Showtime series The Chi created by Lena Waithe and produced by Common. When he was 13, he started a nonprofit called Building Bosses that teaches youth the importance of leadership, entrepreneurship, and service.
Moore, who won the 2016 Black Enterprise Teenpreneur of the Year award, is the founder of Essynce Couture University, which empowers youth with leadership skills and educates them about entrepreneurship. She has also written three books that are mandatory reading for several school district curriculums in New York and New Jersey. In 2015, she launched Essynce Couture Spa and Boutique exclusively for children, tweens, and teens to give the youth a place of their own to visit and be pampered, inspired, and educated.
TEEN MAKES OLYMPIC HISTORY
Seventeen-year-old Maame Biney made history by becoming the first African American woman to qualify for the U.S. Olympic speedskating team in the 2018 Winter Games. Biney earned her spot on the team after coming in first place during the first 500 meters at the short track trials, beating Olympians Lana Gehring, Jessica Kooreman, and Katherine Reutter-Adamek.
Although Biney did not make it past her qualifying heat in the 1500-meters, she earned a gold medal at the 2018 World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships in the 500-meters race.
TEEN LANDS MEGA DEAL WITH THE NBA
Moziah Bridges, Founder and Designer of Mo’s Bows of Memphis
Moziah Bridges’ business success is redefining the realm of business possibility. At the age of 9, Bridges began making bowties and then launched his own company, Mo’s Bows, a line of handcrafted bow ties sewn from scratch, at 12 years old. By 2014, he was making $150,000 with Mo’s Bows. Today, Mo’s Bows neckwear is sold for between $45 and $50 and featured in shops and boutiques in Tennessee, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Arkansas.
To add to his impressive portfolio, last year he secured a major business deal with the National Basketball Association (NBA), where he’ll create a line of handmade neckties and bowties featuring the logos of NBA teams.
Bridges, who was recognized as the 2014 Black Enterprise Teenpreneur of the Year, also gives back to the community. He donated $1,600 to send 10 children from his hometown of Memphis to summer camp.