My name is Stephanie. I am a 17-year-old student activist, organizer and writer who advocates for womanism, diversity in S.T.E.A.M, the abolition of youth prisons and gun violence prevention. When I wrote an article spotlighting Black girls, women and non-binary people challenging the status quo in May of 2017, I decided to create Black Feminist Collective. After a year and a half, I decided to become the editor-in-chief, and began collecting, editing and publishing writings from other Black people.
After seeing Black folks experience police brutality on the news in 2016, I decided to become a youth leader at Richmond Youth Peace Project (RYPP), where I have helped other young folks apply non-violent conflict resolution to reduce gun violence. Being involved with RYPP, I have performed original spoken-word poetry in response to police brutality and white feminism, and I was also given the platform to speak at the March For Our Lives (MFOL) in Richmond, Virginia. After speaking at MFOL, I was invited to contribute articles to the ACLU of Virginia’s blog. I have also written essays for The Melanin Diary, Reforming America, Honey For Your Tea and I am ZMKF, leading up to contributing an article about gun violence prevention to Sesi Magazine’s Fall 2019 issue. My advocacy for gun violence prevention has led to organizing with March For Our Lives Virginia as an outreach director.
When performed my original spoken-word poem about police brutality, I was invited by the Afrikana Independent Film Festival to volunteer as a junior ambassador at a screening of Free Angela and All Political Prisoners, and to meet Angela Davis, whose story inspired me at the age of 15 to contribute to Black Youth Project and to speak at the Virginia Prison Reform Rally. After I taking a class at VCU Arts Sculpture, I joined Art 180, where I was given with a platform to express myself through sculpture, dance, improv, poetry, paintings, creative writing and self portraits. In partnership with Art 180, the first march I ever helped coordinate was with RISE For Youth. It was there that I became an organizer who makes an effort to create in a community that fully invests in youth instead of youth incarceration.
In 2017, I starting participating in clubs at Girls Who Code clubs, and within months, I was selected to travel to Atlanta, Georgia for Girls Who Code’s summer immersion program at General Electric (G.E.). This not only changed my life, but also helped me give back to my community by helping launch a Girls Who Code Club in Richmond. “In recognition of excellent aptitude and interest in computing, solid leadership ability, good academic history and future plans in the field of computer science,” I earned an award from the National Center for Women & Information Technology. I also became a Girls Who Code alumni ambassador and had the opportunity to be part of their #TeamSisterhood campaign. Shortly after organizing and speaking at a rally in Richmond about the significance of inclusivity in conversations about science and climate change, I began working with the Virginia Youth Climate Strike as a regional organizer.
Events & Campaigns I’ve Worked With
Courtesy of Girls Who Code
Courtesy of Virginia Youth Climate Strike
Courtesy of Moms Demand Action Virginia
Courtesy of Virginia Youth Climate Strike
Courtesy of Women’s March RVA
Blogs and Magazines I’ve Written for
Benny Haddad/Sesi Magazine
Schools Need to Guide Black Girls, Not Criminalize Us; Havana Chapman-Edwards on Activism and Girl Power – The Melanin Diary
It is our responsibility as Virginians to direct attention to and put anti-black racism through police violence to an end. – ACLU of Virginia
I spent my 16th birthday at the ACLU National Membership Conference. It didn’t disappoint. – ACLU of Virginia
Black students deserve more inclusion in the conversation on gun violence that disproportionately affects them. – ACLU of Virginia
An evening with Angela Davis inspired me to advocate for prison abolition for Black girls – Black Youth Project
Mark Strandquist/Performing Statistics
“I talked with Stephanie Younger, a 17-year-old gender equality activist from Richmond, VA. We spoke about Black Feminist Collective, Girls Who Code, and Black girl representation.”
“Davis, now 75, has inspired generations. For example, Stephanie Younger, a black student activist who advocates for STEAM diversity, youth prison abolition and nonviolence, says Davis’ advocacy for prison abolition “inspired me to do the same for my community.”
Younger helped create Angela Davis’ Black Girl Coalition, which makes learning skills like conflict resolution accessible to black female students in marginalized communities. Hearing Davis speak, Younger says, served as an “affirmation to young and socially conscious black people who are willing to be a voice in the community that we will inherit.”
– UCLA Magazine
“Many of the women and girls who spoke to researchers also described having to deal with people’s expectations that they were angry or aggressive. Starting in childhood, black girls are seen as “sassy,” or accused of having attitude problems, perceptions often rooted in stereotypes of the “angry black woman.” “@GtownLawPovCntr When three teachers accused me of threatening a white girl (whom I didn’t get along with). I was 9. When a robotics team accused me of being “ungracious” and “acting out” when they refused to teach me how to code. I was 14.”
“An essential part in creating a better understanding of diversity is providing a space for people of color to tell their personal stories. In these features, AOV has extended its platform beyond our writers and reached out to 4 phenomenal people of color making a difference in their communities.”
#BlackGirlMagic Column – Sesi Magazine
“Like most of us, 16-year-old Stephanie Younger didn’t see herself in the mainstream media. A self proclaimed student activist and womanist, she decided to step up to the plate and change things, starting with her blog Black Feminist Collective.”
– Stacey Coles, Sesi Magazine
““To me, a computer scientist embodies kindness, resilience, and aspiration.” // In this post, AiC Community Member Stephanie Younger reflects on how inclusive computing programs helped prepare her to combat systemic bias and start her own coding workshops for Black women and girls. This post, originally published in 2017, was re-shared in honor of Black History Month.”
“To celebrate #BlackHistoryMonth, Martin employees are taking over our feed to share stories of black Richmonders who have made an impact on our community and beyond. Today, art director Ashley Bozeman is recognizing Stephanie Younger.”
“Younger isn’t discouraged by the partisan stalemate. She doesn’t seem discouraged by much of anything. She’s been called divisive and confrontational for insisting that the conversation include race, and she identifies as a womanist because she says feminism excludes her and other girls and women of color.”
“You can find inspiration from other Black girls in the movement. A few of our faves: Stephanie is a student activist from Richmond, Virginia, who uses her blog and her connects with the Richmond Peace Education Center and the ACLU of Virginia to advocate for diversity in S.T.E.A.M., for the abolition of youth imprisonment, for the use of nonviolence as conflict resolution, and against gun violence.In a post on her blog Black Feminist Collective, Stephanie wrote, “The mainstream media’s abundant support for the students in Parkland and the minimal support for Black youth, who are affected by [gun violence] the most, is evident. This movement against gun violence has been deemed a ‘new wave of student activism’ when Black students have been rallying against gun violence for generations.”
“Most 16-year-olds aren’t writing articles for the ACLU of Virginia, planning to help lead a parade centered around juvenile justice, or interviewing Black Lives Matter (BLM) co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors. 16-year-old Stephanie Younger is: and this is only the beginning.”
“At the beginning and end we heard speeches (one by my friend Stephanie), songs, raps, poetry, and freestyle dances, all of which went to support a bigger cause.”
Women and Politics – WRIR 97.3 FM Richmond Independent Radio Interview
“Participants offered several unique insights on how gun violence impacts people from different places and backgrounds, and also the need to think about gun violence as an issue of racial equity as well. Stephanie Younger shared her reflections on the impact of gun violence as it pertains to race, “As a member of the Richmond Peace Education Center, I think it’s important to regard how black communities are disproportionately affected by gun violence, and how important it is to uplift their voices. We have a racist history of gun violence, and it’s our responsibility as Virginian’s to put this to an end.”
“Panelists for Saturday’s event include Richmond School Board member Felicia Cosby, 6th District; the Rev. Marcus Martin of Newbridge Baptist Church; Stephanie Younger, a youth activist with the Richmond Peace Education Center; Richmond Deputy Police Chief Eric English; and City Council President Chris A. Hilbert, 3rd District.”
“I thought it would be a movement for keeping our schools safe, but it’s not just that. It’s helping our black communities and those disproportionately affected by gun violence,” explained Stephanie Younger, a 15-year-old who works with the Richmond Peace Education Center. “It continues to happen to marginalized groups, and I want to uplift the voices of the black community who has been fighting for gun reform for generations.”
Richmond students, community rally in the thousands for gun control – VCU Capital News Service; WTVR CBS 6 News; ABC 8 News; NBC 12 News; Richmond Free Press; Church Hill People’s News
“Speakers also emphasized the greater impact gun violence has on the African-American community, tying it to historical acts of violence against minorities.
“How many more black families will be devastated by gun violence – threatened or killed by the people whose job it is to serve and protect?” Stephanie Younger, an activist with the Richmond Youth Peace Project, asked the crowd.
“How many more times do my parents have to give me that talk explaining to me that I’m 10 times more likely to become a victim of gun violence because I am black?”