African-Americans continue to find themselves at the bottom of most every measure tracking a community’s well-being in the U.S. Though most of the current crop of political and community leaders are certainly well-meaning, there’s a need for new, young voices to emerge and take the mantle of leadership. The current protest movement has been an important training ground for many of them.
After Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman, Agnew, 29, executive director of the Dream Defenders, became a powerful voice in Florida against the “Stand your ground” laws. From organizing protests and sit-ins at the Florida Statehouse, Agnew and his organization have risen to assume a national presence in the protest movement. His passion and intelligence immediately make him stand out from the crowd, in addition to his courage and unwillingness to compromise in the fight against injustice.
Robinson, 35, serves as executive director of ColorofChange.org, the nation’s largest online social justice organization. After the police killing of Michael Brown, ColorofChange.org rallied in front of the White House last summer, delivering a #JusticeforMikeBrown petition that was signed by more than 900,000 people and calling for the Justice Department to establish federal standards for police oversight across the nation, including anti-bias training and data collection on police brutality broken down by race. Social media and the Internet clearly have become important tools for leadership, and Robinson is on the leading edge of that wave.