The word 'activism' is defined as action that inspires political, social or economic change. For a lot of people, activism is a way of life. It comes with the desire to change the world for the better and improve the lives of those living in it.
With discrimination coming in so many different forms, representation for marginalised groups is so important. Whether they're advocating for equality in regards to race, ethnicity, class, religion, sexuality, gender or disabilities, they're helping to start those conversations that need to be addressed.
That's why for Black History Month, we've decided to celebrate influential Black icons in the public eye who've help to inspire, empower and make change.
Black activists and icons you should follow on Instagram:
Inspiring Black influencers and activists you should follow
@lizzobeeating on Instagram: "It's time to hold the people in charge accountable. It's time for them to listen. And it's time for actual change in our policies and practices."'Truth Hurts' singer, Lizzo shot to fame and has since used her music as a means of empowerment and protest. While for some she's become a symbol of black, female and body-positive empowerment, Lizzo would also like to be considered as an activist because she "cares about issues and wants to help the world."She recently led a TED Talk about cultural appropriation and what it means to navigate the world and music industry as a Black woman.
@johnboyega on Instagram: "I'll continue to use my platform to fight against the injustices and inequalities in our community, no matter what."Predominantly known for his role in 'Star Wars,' actor John Boyega gave an emotional speech at a Black Lives Matter protest in Hyde Park last year. He also starred in BBC drama 'Small Axe' which explores the real-life experiences of the Windrush generation in London. He continues to be involved in projects that demonstrate Black history, and uses his platforms to uplift other Black creatives.
@the_symone on Instagram: "The times we are living in are tough, but do not let that defeat you. You are strong! You are beautiful, but more than anything you are worthy of this life! ✊ud83cudffe #blacklivesmatter."Winner of 'Ru Paul's Drag Race' season 13, Symone expressed how their drag was heavily influenced by Black history and Black culture. Symone shared how moving through the world as being Black and a member of the LGBTQ+ community has effected them throughout their lives. Famously walking down the runway honouring the Black Lives Matter movement with her 'Say Their Names' dress was an emotional statement that won't be forgotten any time soon.
@santandave on Instagram: "To the victims of the Windrush scandal, the victims of Grenfell, the victims of war crimes in the Middle East, the victims of racism and corruption at the highest levels and all the other things that this album is about."Dave's climb to fame through YouTube eventually saw him perform a powerful rendition of his song 'Black' at the BRIT Awards in 2020 where he voiced his experiences on being Black. He's also repeatedly showed solidarity for the victims of Grenfell over the years, and shown his support for the Black Lives Matter movement through protest.
@indyamoore on Instagram: "Every single time trans people break through spaces and that we are typically banned from accessing, we are affirmed that the earth gets to be ours just as much as everyone else."Indya Moore appeared on our screens when they starred in, 'Pose,' a series that encapsulates what it was like for the LGBTQ+ community during the '80s and '90s. They're an activist who's protested and expressed their views publicly on topics like female empowerment, LGBTQ+ rights and racism. They also uses their platform to raise awareness on climate change and the effects of colonisation.
@akalamusic on Instagram: "Happy Black History Month Everyone... let's remember #BHM is not a time or occasion to retell the same old stories but to start to correct the deliberately distorted history of Africa."You may know Akala through his award-winning musical career, but he's also a best-selling novelist, journalist, historian and poet.He's spoken in equity talks about institutionalised racism and classism within society. He's spoken in solidarity with the Windrush generation and the victims of Grenfell. His incredible influence and ongoing contributions to making sure Black history is heard and represented correctly are undeniable.
@simonebiles on Instagram: "I'm proud of myself and the career I've had thus far. This olympics doesn't erase the past accomplishments I've achieved nor does it define who I am as an athlete. I've pushed through so much the past couple years, the word quitter is not in my vocabulary."Simone's achievements don't just end at being the most decorated female gymnast in history and fierce competitor in the Olympics.Her personal achievements may also be considered as pulling out of the women's gymnastic finals to focus on her mental health, which opened the conversation around mental health in a wider sense.As well as being an advocate for female empowerment and Black lives, she raises awareness of mental health and disabilities. She's open about living with ADHD and her Facebook series Simone vs Herself shows her journey to the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
**@marcusrashford **on Instagram: "I've grown into a sport where I expect to read things written about myself. Whether it be the colour of my skin, where I grew up, or, most recently, how I decide to spend my time off the pitch. I can take critique of my performance all day long, but I will never apologise for who I am and where I came from."While Marcus Rashford found fame as a footballer playing for Manchester United, he also gained attention through his support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and launching a campaign to feed children living in poverty.Working with FareShare, shooting documentary 'Marcus Rashford: Feeding Britain's Children' and donating £20m to charity, it's clear to see how Marcus Rashford's incredible influence has helped the world to be a better place.
@imarnayton on Instagram: "1 year today...I organised my first ever Black Lives Matter Protest with approximately 20,000 people. Which included: Stormzy, Lewis Hamilton, Anthony Joshua and the Legend Madonna. Needless to say... I am truly grateful for this magical day!"Activist and journalist Imarn Ayton started the Black Reformist Movement to empower Black lives and eradicate racism.She's spoken on Good Morning Britain, BBC News and written for various publications on topics about equity. She's also received support from John Boyega and Madonna for her efforts in organising protests for the Black Lives Matter movement.
@adeadepitan on Instagram: "The Black British disabled experience and why Black disabled representation matters!✊ud83cudffe"You may know him as a Paralympian and a presenter, but Ade Adepitan has also always been an environmental activist and a representative for others with disabilities as well. Starring in documentary Climate Change: Ade on the Frontline, he searches for answers to the climate crisis and its' potential solutions. He's also worked closely alongside Dope Black Disabled to celebrate Black disabled lives.
@tamikadmallory on Instagram: "We are not loyal to political parties, we are loyal to our people. We don't care who the President of the United States is, we will call out injustice when we see it. What's WRONG is WRONG."Tamika D. Mallory is an American activist bringing awareness to injustice through speech, marches and protest. She's organised marches including the 2017 and 2019 Women's March, she expressed she "wanted to ensure that Black women's voices are upheld, uplifted, and that our issues are addressed, but this cannot happen unless we take a seat at the table".She also hosts a podcast called Street Politicians, where she uses the platform to amplify Black voices in discussions on a variety of topics. She also has a novel State of Emergency that explores the Black experience in America.
@lewishamilton on Instagram: "What does justice mean for a daughter who lost her dad? For a woman who lost her partner? For a man who lost his brother? What does justice mean when a man's life is stolen because of nothing more than the colour of his skin?"Lewis Hamilton not only started The Hamilton Commission in order to improve the representation of Black people in UK motorsport, he's also attended protests and famously represented Black creatives and designers on the runway. He's taken the knee before races, and famously wore "Black Lives Matter", "Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor", and "George Floyd, Say His Name" t-shirts to raise issues surrounding injustice.
@lupitanyongo**** on Instagram: "We cannot ease up on our calls for change to the policing and justice systems that have too often and too long failed our Black communities and stolen Black lives. Sending love with deep respect to #GeorgeFloyd's family today. #BlackLivesMatter" Arguably most known through her roles in "Get Out" and "Black Panther", actress Lupita Nyong'o has been vocal about her support of justice for Black lives. She's also a New York Times bestseller with her children's book, "Sulwe" exploring the journey of self love in Black children.
@jordanpeele**** on Instagram: "Jordan Peele and Monkeypaw Productions are proud to donate $1 million across five organizations we see as essential to the health and lives of Black people. We are committed to continued action against a system rooted in the violence against and oppression of the Black community. "Actor, comedian and director Jordan Peele made waves with his directed horror films "Get Out" starring British actor Daniel Kaluuya and "Us" starring American actress Lupita Nyong'o. "Get Out" particularly explores themes of racism, identity and climate in America. In an interview with The New York Times, he revealed: "I wanted to make a film that acknowledges neglect and inaction in the face of the real race monster. In the process, I wanted to give a horror movie to everyone, but really to black audiences."
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If you're interested in learning more and educating yourself on race and issues of racism, there's a few essential reads that you can explore:
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni-Eddo Lodge
So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo