In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, MTV’s Look Different campaign is highlighting stories of influential women of color who fought for civil rights throughout our country’s history. Look Different tapped powerful young activists working for social justice in 2016 to share these inspiring stories of important historical figures who deserve a bigger spotlight.
Here are some of the amazing presenters and the brave women whose stories they’re telling:
Elle Hearns presenting Sylvia Rivera
Elle Hearns is the Central Regional Coordinator for GetEQUAL, which defines itself as a “grassroots organization that seeks to empower the LGBTQ community and our allies to take action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way.”
“Sylvia Rivera was a Puerto Rican transgender activist involved in the monumental New York City Stonewall Riots in 1969, which were a crucial turning point in the LGBT movement,” Hearns says in the video. According to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, “Sylvia fought hard against the exclusion of transgender people from the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act in New York, and was a loud and persistent voice for the rights of people of color and low-income queers and trans people.”
Gloria Malone presenting Claudette Colvin
Gloria Malone is the founder of the Teen Mom NYC blog, which seeks to “provide accurate, reliable, inspiring information and advice to teen mothers,” according to its mission statement.
“In 1955, nine months before Rosa Parks became famous, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus,” Malone says in the video. “Colvin was a plaintiff in the case that declared bus segregation unconstitutional.”
“Claudette gave all of us moral courage. If she had not done what she did, I am not sure that we would have been able to mount the support for Mrs. Parks,” Fred Gray, her former attorney, once said.
Bryanna Jenkins presenting Marsha P. Johnson
Bryanna Jenkins is the Executive Director of the Baltimore Transgender Alliance.
“Marsha Johnson was a pioneering African-American transgender activist,” Jenkins says. “Many say she was the first person to fight back during the 1969 New York City Stonewall Riots.”
Johnson remained an activist throughout her life. Mic reports, “During the 1980s AIDS epidemic that ravaged the gay community, Johnson became a prominent activist with the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, which did things like demonstrate on Wall Street against the exorbitant prices of experimental AIDS drugs.”
To check out the other amazing stories and to learn how you too can fight against bias, visit MLK.lookdifferent.org.