Changemakers are people who can see the patterns around them, identify the problems in any situation, figure out ways to solve the problem, organize fluid teams, lead collective action and then continually adapt as situations change.
The central challenge of our time is to make everyone a changemaker. To do that you start young. Your kid is 12. She tells you about some problem — the other kids at school are systematically mean to special-needs students. This is a big moment. You pause what you are doing and ask her if there’s anything she thinks she can do to solve the problem, not just for this kid but for the next time it happens, too.
Very few kids take action to solve the first problem they see, but eventually they come back having conceived and owning an idea. They organize their friends and do something. The adult job now is to get out of the way. Put the kids in charge.
Once a kid has had an idea, built a team and changed her world, she’s a changemaker. She has the power. She’ll go on to organize more teams. She will always be needed.
So many contributions go unheralded often for no other reason that they defy stereotypes and narratives to serve to convince segments of the population they cannot be agents of change. Our children need to understand that their only limitations are the ones they allow.
Emmit McHenry (born July 12, 1943, in Forrest City, Arkansas), is a black entrepreneur and company builder. He started as an IBM Systems Engineer and later served as Assistant Dean and Instructor at Northwestern University. With Gary Desler, Ty Grigsby, and Ed Peters he founded his first full-time entrepreneurial venture: Network Solutions. The company commercialized the TCP/IP protocol for packet switched computer network interoperability and went on to become the manager of the domain name system (DNS) registry.
Emma González (born November 11, 1999) is an American activist and advocate for gun control. As a high school senior she survived the February 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, and in response co-founded the gun-control advocacy group Never Again MSD.
González first drew national attention after a speech she gave at a rally against gun violence went viral, famously proclaiming “We call B.S.” on the lack of action by politicians funded by the NRA. Subsequently, González continued to be an outspoken activist on gun control, making high profile media appearances and helping organize the March for Our Lives, which became the largest student protest in American history.
Janice Bryant Howroyd
Janice Bryant Howroyd (born September 1, 1952) is an entrepreneur, educator, ambassador, businesswoman, author, and mentor. She is founder and Chief Executive Officer of The ACT-1 Group, the largest privately held, woman-owned workforce solutions company founded in the U.S. The Act-1 Group also holds a Minority ownership status, and is a multibillion-dollar (USD) award-winning international Talent and Talent Technology enterprise with multiple divisions operating in 19 countries with over 17,000 clients and 2,600 employees worldwide. Howroyd is most well known for being the first African American Woman to build and own a billion dollar company.
Her personal motto is “Never compromise who you are personally to become who you wish to be professionally.”
Dr. Patricia Era Bath
If you are considering Lasik Eye Surgery, you can thank this woman who invented the procedure in 2000.
Dr. Patricia Era Bath (born November 4, 1942, in Harlem, New York) is an American ophthalmologist, inventor and academic.
She has broken ground for women and African Americans in a number of areas.
Dale F. Hogg
A man of many accomplishments—newscaster, corporate manager, public speaker. A trailblazer—in his role heading a small magazine, he led the way to rip off the veil of secrecy hiding Tulsa’s infamous race riots, thus enabling the healing and reconciliation process (which continues today) to begin.
Gerald Anderson “Jerry” Lawson
Born in 1940, Jerry Lawson pioneered home video gaming in the 1970s by helping create the Fairchild Channel F, the first home video game system with interchangeable games. A New York native, Lawson is one of the few African-American engineers who worked in computing at the dawn of the video game era.