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Black History Month: Highlighting Two Young Activists

February is Black History Month. Two young activists share their thoughts on the protests last summer and what they’re doing to make change.

Indya Smith-Johnson

In summer 2020, many young adults like 19-year-old Indya-Smith Johnson took part in the Black Lives Matter protests in Naperville.

Since then, the young activist said she’s seen positive changes similar to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.

“It had a chain reaction that forced people of color to have more equality in the country and it was that type of big level change where we now build off of that and keep building,” said Smith-Johnson. “And now we’re looking for police reform, we’re looking for another level change so that we keep stepping up the ladder of equality.”

The University of Iowa student organized many of the marches and rallies in Naperville, and continues to use her voice to make change.

Mikel Mays

North Central College student, Mikel Mays, also believes the summer movement sparked change.

“I think some of that ‘good trouble’ that happened this summer was needed to spark the movement and give us the momentum to move forward,” said Mays. “Even looking at it now, now you have so many diversity, equity, and inclusion task forces.”

The 20-year-old music and entrepreneurship major is helping to move his community forward by opening a music center this summer that provides diverse music that is accessible and affordable for all.

Coming out of a challenging year with COVID-19 and civil unrest, Mays reminds people “we can only get through things like this and move forward to the future if we do it together.”

Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.


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