Written by Mollie Knight
Black Leaders Awareness Day is a day dedicated to raising awareness of past, current and future Black world leaders and takes place every year on the 18th July. Days like today are so important for everyone, especially as the impactful contributions that Black people have made to history are being brought more and more to the forefront in recent times. We should continue to celebrate the incredible achievements of Black leaders around the globe. So, who are the Black leaders and change-makers of today?

Tayshan Hayden-Smith

Landscape photograph of Tayshan Hayden-Smith | One Wear Freedom
Source: The Guardian
Tayshan Hayden-Smith started gardening in a plot underneath the Westway in west London. The area, known as North Kensington, is the same area in which Grenfell happened, which is what actually kick-started Hayden-Smith’s gardening journey. He was 19 at the time of the fire and, after the tragedy, felt a strong desire to start planting things. This year, Hayden-Smith took part in the Chelsea Flower Show for the first time with the exhibition “Hands off Mangrove by Grow2Know garden”, which pays homage to the Mangrove Nine.

Dr Kizzmekia S. Corbett

Landscape photograph of Kizzmekia Corbett | One Wear Freedom
Source: St Paul's Anglican Newmarket
Dr Corbett is a viral immunologist from the USA. She has worked as the Assistant Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard University. As soon as the pandemic began sweeping the globe, Corbett and her team began working on a vaccine to help protect people from coronavirus. Subsequently, they partnered with Moderna to successfully develop the Moderna mRNA vaccine. She also openly criticised the lack of diversity on the U.S government’s COIVD19 task force. In recognition for her work, she was highlighted in the Times “Time100 Next” list under the category ‘innovators’ in 2021.

Victor J. Glover, Jr.

Portrait photograph of Victor J Glover Jr | One Wear Freedom
Source: NASA
Victor J. Glover is a NASA Astronaut and became the first African American astronaut to live and work at the International Space Station for an extended period of time. He grew up in California and worked in the US Navy before completing his training at NASA in 2015. In February last year he spoke via video call to Vice President Kamala Harris, where he discussed how it feels to be making history, which you can watch here.

Malorie Blackman

Landscape photograph of Malorie Blackman | One Wear Freedom
Source: Books Africana
Malorie Blackman is an award-winning British author who, mostly, writes children and YA books. Her most critically acclaimed book series, Noughts and Crosses, explores themes of racism through the context of an alternate, dystopian 21st Century Britain. She has also written TV scripts, including one for an episode of Doctor Who. In 2013 she became the UK’s first Black children’s laureate and this year she received the PEN Pinter Prize.

Francia Márquez

Francia Márquez is the Vice President Elect of Colombia and when she is inaugurated on the 7th August, she will join Epsy Campbell Barr from Costa Rica as one of only two Black female vice-presidents in Latin America. The only country in the same region that has a larger population of afro-latinx people is Brazil, where, like in Colombia, they are massively underrepresented in business and politics. This win is a huge one, not just for Colombian politics, but afro-latinx women in Colombia and beyond. Francia Márquez has been an activist since she was 13, when she protested the erection of a dam that would destroy her village.  She has also studied for a law degree, led a 350 mile protest march and survived at least one assassination attempt – all whilst being a single mother of two.

Opal Tometi, Patrisse Cullors, and Alicia Garza

Lanscape photograph of Opal Tometi, Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza | One Wear Freedom
Source: Black Lives Matter
Opal Tometi, Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza are the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement. Through this movement they have constantly challenged and exposed institutional and structural racism, that is still very pervasive today. Not to mention, Black Lives Matter became a world-wide movement that has led to global changes. The movement originates int he aftermath of the murder of Mike Brown in 2014 by a Missouri police officer. Tometi, Cullors and Garza helped organize “freedom rides”, which assisted activists in reaching Missouri to demand justice for Mike Brown. They have already made history and I am sure they will continue to do so. 
Though this list is in no way conclusive, it highlights some of the brilliant work Black leaders are achieving in the world today to fight key issues such as racism and corruption. Not only is it important for everyone to know their names, it is integral that their stories are able to inspire young Black children to follow in their footsteps. Honourable mention goes to our founder, Jordache, who is helping revolutionise the way we consume clothing for the benefit of our planet and each other. Let us know who inspires you on this Black Leaders Awareness Day in the comments below or over on our Instagram!

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