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10 Young Latinx Activists You Should Know

They’re standing up for immigrants, farmworkers, the environment, and more.

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September 15 to October 15 is Latinx Heritage Month!

Latinx activism in the US has a long history -- you may have heard of Dolores Huerta and the agricultural labor movement or Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzáles and the Chicano civil rights movement (or maybe you haven’t, and that’s okay too!). Even today, Latinx folks in this country continue to fiercely advocate for solutions to social issues, and this is best exemplified in the young people below. (“Latinx” is a gender-inclusive term used in place of the gendered “Latino” or “Latina.”)

Spanning multiple motherlands, immigrant generations, and social justice causes, these 10 young activists are all doing important work to bring change to their communities. Read on to hear their stories.

(Editor’s Note: You may have heard others refer to the holiday as Hispanic Heritage Month, but in the name of a more inclusive celebration (one that recognizes Indigenous, non-Spanish speaking, and gender non-conforming folks), we’ve opted to honor Latinx Heritage Month.)

1. Sara Mora, 22

(@misssaramora)

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In 2017, after the federal government announced its intent to discontinue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Sara Mora publicly revealed that she was undocumented and a DACA recipient, launching her work in activism. Sara is using the power of digital storytelling to advocate for workers unions, non-profits, community organizations, and immigration reform initiatives. Her most recent project is #WhoIsOur2020, which she said will be a campaign about US presidential candidates in the 2020 election.

2. Sophie Cruz, 9

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She was five years old when she tried to get through the Pope’s security barricade to hand him a letter (and the video of their encounter went viral). Sophie’s letter had a simple request: for him to help undocumented folks like her parents, who immigrated to the US from Oaxaca, Mexico. She’s since gone on to become a powerful voice in the immigrant rights movement, with accomplishments like speaking at the Women’s March, sitting in on Supreme Court hearings, and meeting with former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden -- all before her age hits double digits.

3. Daphne Frias, 21

(@frias_daphne)

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The Parkland shooting first inspired Daphne to get involved in activism, and she organized and fought for accessible transportation for her and dozens of classmates to attend a March For Our Lives protest an hour away from their college in Syracuse. As an activist and a person living with Cerebral Palsy, she continues to make space within movements for people with disabilities, which currently include efforts related to voter registration, the climate crisis, and gun violence prevention. She’s the founder of Box the Ballot, New York State Director for March For Our Lives, and State Lead for Future Coalition.

4. Sage Grace Dolan-Sandrino, 19

(@graceadvocates)

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When her middle school didn’t support her decision to publicly transition in 2013, Sage Grace Dolan-Sandrino made it her mission to fight for trans students in similar situations. She has participtaed on boards for the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and GLAAD for LGBTQ+ education reform. Sage identifies as Afro-Latinx, and she’s served as a representative for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

5. Edna Chavez, 19

(@ednaacz)

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Growing up in South Los Angeles, Edna Chavez witnessed routine gun violence in her community, and a shooting outside her home took the life of her 14-year-old brother Ricardo. She told his story -- and the story of thousands of other people of color disproportionately affected by gun violence -- before a crowd at the March For Our Lives in Washington, DC. Edna is part of the Community Coalition’s Youth Empowerment Through Action group, where she helps mobilize her community on everything from immigrant rights to civic power, and she was recognized in 2018 as one of Teen Vogue’s 21 Under 21.

6. Ashton Mota, 15

Last year, Ashton Mota became a public face for Massachusetts’ “Yes on 3” campaign, which aimed to uphold a state law that provided protections for transgender people. Ashton shared his experiences as a Black and Latinx trans teen navigating an elite private high school, where he fought for the right to use his preferred name and play on the boys’ basketball team. He’s currently a youth ambassador for the Human Rights Campaign, and he uses his platform to advocate for LGBTQ+ people of color.

7. Faith Florez, 18

(@faith.florez)

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As a third generation Mexican-American and descendant of farmworkers, Faith Florez heard stories passed down from her grandfather about working in the fields and the toll it took on their family’s health. Moved by this connection, Faith conceptualized an app called Calor, which helps farmworkers combat heat stress. She continues to pilot the app and fundraise for its development, and she advocates for more tech solutions to challenges that affect the Latinx community through her Latina Legacy Foundation. Most recently, she was honored as a Three Dot Dash 2019 Global Teen Leader.

8. Ramon Contreras, 19

(@_RamonContreras)

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After losing a longtime friend to gun violence in his Harlem neighborhood, Ramon Contreras felt the need to advocate for gun control that’s inclusive of communities of color. He co-founded Youth Over Guns and organized a march on the Brooklyn Bridge, where he gathered with thousands of youth activists, carrying a casket symbolizing the deaths in Black and Latinx communities. Now, Ramon is a political organizer with Organizing Corps 2020, which gives young people skills to work on the 2020 general election.

9. Jamie Margolin, 17

(@Jamie_Margolin)

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Climate action has been a priority to Jamie Margolin since the beginning of her activism. At 14, she started organizing with other young people in her hometown of Seattle educating, protesting, and campaigning in the name of climate action. Her work gained momentum when she founded Zero Hour in 2017 and led a youth climate march on Washington DC. Jamie also played a role in the most recent Global Climate Strikes, and testified before Congress about the impact of growing up under the looming threat of the climate crisis.

10. Luis Hernandez, 17

At 14, Luis Hernandez watched as his brother Pedro was arrested and put in prison for a crime he did not commit. This led him to advocate for his brother’s freedom and wider criminal justice reform with Justice League NYC, Even after his brother was back home and cleared of charges, Luis continued to work with the organization as a youth leadership and engagement coordinator. He also helped co-found Youth Over Guns and was a member of the 2019 Women’s March Youth Empower cohort.

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