Black Activists, Artists, Historians and Changemakers You Should Follow on Social Media
You need these artists, authors, historians and changemakers on your social media feeds beyond Black History Month
Whether you've read her books or not (you should, they're great), the New York Times bestselling author of Mediocre and So You Want to Talk About Race is a must-follow. Her Instagram is a wealth of knowledge with book recommendations, informative Instagram Lives and a few memes for good measure.
Brittany Packnett Cunningham
The NBC and MSNBC Contributor —who was one of the Ferguson protest organizers — has been instrumental to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Her résumé is an impressive one; she's done everything from co-founding Campaign Zero and shaping policy as part of the Obama Administration's Task Force on 21st Century Policing to co-hosting the UNDISTRACTED podcast. Her book, We Are Like Those Who Dream, is set to be released in 2021.
Imani is a Black, bisexual, Muslim historian and activist who authored Modern HERstory: Stories of Women and Nonbinary People Rewriting History and Making Our Way Home: The Great Migration and the Black American Dream.
Imani delivers short videos, (no, literally, they're called 'Smarter in Seconds') that are both educational and entertaining. Her feed is also full of colorful, fun graphics that are as informative as they are fun to look at (which is to say very informative and very fun).
The Dallas-based multidisciplinary artist, who was born in Lagos, Nigeria, uses art to evoke emotion and tell a story. Coker writes on his website that "his mix of vibrant colors and textures come from his upbringing in Nigeria as well as his love for the African Diaspora."
Willis, a Black transgender activist, writer and media strategist, has made history throughout her career. She served as executive editor of Out magazine, was an organizer for Transgender Law Center and is currently the director of communications at the Ms. Foundation for Women. You may remember her powerful speech from the Brooklyn Liberation March for Black Trans Lives in June 2020.
She's also currently working on a book, The Risk It Took to Bloom.
The college student had a pretty typical Instagram feed before she went viral in June 2020, when she shared an Instagram infographic titled 'How to Ally.' Now, Beecham continues to educate her followers with infographics, Twitter threads and videos on everything from African American English to racism in the American criminal justice system.
W. Kamau Bell
Bringing humor to activism, W. Kamau Bell is a stand-up comedian (he has a comedy special on Netflix, Private School Negro), author, ACLU celebrity ambassador, co-host of the Politically Reactive podcast and host of the Emmy Award-winning United Shades of America.
Ricketts is a racial justice educator, author and attorney who marries spirituality with activism. Her social media is a calming space for BIPOC people to heal, but also makes space for others to learn how to dismantle white supremacy.
Mel D. Cole
Cole is a New York City-based photographer who has captured stunning photos of major historical moments from the insurrection on Jan. 6 to Black Lives Matter marches in the summer of 2020. He is also the founder of the first Black-owned soccer-specific photo agency, Charcoal Pitch F.C. His wide-ranging coverage of current events makes for poignant, must-see shots.
Lindsay Peoples Wagner
Peoples Wagner was the youngest editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue, and was recently announced as the new editor-in-chief of The Cut in January 2021.
She's also the co-founder of the Black in Fashion Council, which looks to advance Black individuals in the historically white fashion industry.
Tamika D. Mallory
Mallory is an activist and community organizer. She was one of the lead organizers in the 2017 Women's March, serving as co-chair for the organization until 2019. She also previously served as the youngest-ever Executive Director of the National Action Network.
Before her tenure as the co-chair of the Women's March, she worked with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to create the N.Y.C. Crisis Management System. She also serves on the board of directors for Gathering for Justice, an organization that aims to end the incarceration of children, and is the co-founder of Until Freedom, an organization that addresses and fights racial injustice.
You probably saw her impassioned speech following the police killing of George Floyd in May. You can hear more from her on the Street Politicians podcast, which she co-hosts.
Cole is the CEO and founder of My Block, My Hood, My City, a social impact organization that features an education program for teenagers in Chicago and a network of volunteer programs.
Before founding MBMHMC, Cole founded the Role Model Movement in 2009, which was geared toward inspiring and empowering underserved youths. He's the author of books like Exposure Is Key: Solving Violence By Exposing Teens to Opportunities, and It's Not Regular: How to Recognize Injustice Hidden in Plain Sight.
With nearly 700,000 followers on TikTok, Chambers, a 28-year-old teacher from North Carolina, has made herself a fixture on the wildly popular app. It all started with a viral song about crime statistics and has morphed into a bevy of videos ranging from hilarious musical responses (like this one) to videos on figures in Black History. What makes Chambers' content so special is that it meets her followers where they are without coddling them.
After making a her debut reading her poem “The Hill We Climb” at Joe Biden and Kamala Harris' Inauguration, the Youth Poet Laureate gained millions of Instagram followers — and for good reason. Her feed is inspirational: both because of her impactful words and her stunning style.
Gorman said in a conversation with Michelle Obama for TIME, "Poetry and language are often at the heartbeat of movements for change," and she uses her platform for just that.
Mireille Cassandra Harper
Harper is a writer, sensitivity reader and editor at Square Peg Books. She created one of the viral infographics you may have seen come across your feed in May 2020, a guide called '10 Steps to Non-Optical Allyship.'
Harper also wrote Timelines from Black History: Leaders, Legends, Legacies, which is a collection of biographies of figures in Black History.
McKnight is the founder and owner of Not Your Momma's History, an organization that "consults with and aids museums, historical sites, historical societies, private businesses, etc. in developing specialized programming about slavery and the African experience within 18th and 19th century America." It also offers educational resources and camp programs for children.
McKnight acts as an interpreter, and has worked in 26 states and with more than 45 historic sites to interpret slavery of the 18th, early 19th and mid 19th century as a living historian.
Seales is a multi-talented comedian, actress, author and more, who uses her wit and her platform to advocate for the Black community.
In June 2020, Seales did not renew her contract as co-host on The Real, leaving after just six months because "it doesn’t feel good to my soul to be at a place where I cannot speak to my people the way they need to be spoken to and where the people who are speaking to me in disparaging ways are not being handled."
Instead, she speaks her mind on her podcast, Small Doses, and her social media.
Garza is a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as an organizer and public speaker. Currently, she's the Principal of Black Futures Lab and the Special Projects Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
If you want more of Garza's commentary beyond social media, she's also got a podcast, Lady Don’t Take No, and authored a book, The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart, which was released in 2020.
Patricia A. Taylor
Taylor shares her thoughts on race in America, Black womanhood and more both on her Instagram and her blog, Some Thoughts From Your Black Friend.
She also co-hosts the Upside Down Podcast, which is a podcast that sits at the "intersection of justice, spirituality, and culture."
Another TikTok historian, Thomas has more than 30,000 followers on the app, educating people on Chicago history and Black history. He told The Chicago Tribune, "I realize I’m not an average looking historian, and that’s a good thing, right? I’m an urban historian, I guess. Just trying to engage younger people in history. Maybe it’ll help."
Cargle has become a social media, social justice fixture with an Instagram following of nearly 2 million. She is the founder of The Great Unlearn, a self-paced, self-priced learning collective "committed to celebrating and highlighting the genius of academics of color," and the founder of The Loveland Foundation, which provides Black women and girls opportunity and healing, as well as access to therapy.
Her discourse on social media includes journaling and research prompts, which actively engage and educate her audience.
Austin Channing Brown
Austin Channing Brown is the author of the New York Times bestseller of I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, and the Executive Producer of The Next Question web series.