Photo credit: Uyen Cao
You may remember 12-year-old Marley Dias as the founder of the #1000BlackGirlBooks, which is a campaign that set out to donate 1,000 books that feature Black girls as main characters. After surpassing her goal and collecting more than 10,000 books, Dias has secured a book deal of her own and earned herself a spot as the youngest person on Forbes’ 30 under 30 list for its 2018 class.
She originally launched her campaign in November 2015 after growing frustration of not seeing herself represented in literature.
“Frustration is fuel that can lead to the development of an innovative and useful idea,” she told Forbes.
The young author and activist said it wasn’t until after doing some research of her own did she realize just how few books were on the market that featured girls of color as their lead character.
“I had a lot of choices about how I was going to address this problem,” she added. “Option 1: focus on me, get myself more books; have my dad take me to Barnes and Noble and just be done, live my perfect life in suburban New Jersey. Option 2: find some authors, beg them to write more Black girl books so I’d have some of my own, special editions, treat myself a bit. Or, option 3: start a campaign that collect books with Black girls as main characters, donate them to communities, develop a resource guide to find those books, talk to educators and legislators about how to increase the pipeline of diverse books, and lastly, write my own book, so that I can see Black girl books collected and I can see my story reflected in the books I read.”
With her option three mission in mind, Dias has done just that. Her own book, “Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You!” will be published in 2018. In addition to a book deal, her work has led her to the White House, where she spoke at the United State of Women Summit alongside Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey. She’s also interviewed prominent influencers like Ava DuVernay and most recently spoke at the 2017 Teen Vogue Summit.
“I’m working to create a space where it feels easy to include and imagine Black girls and make Black girls like me the main characters of our lives,” she told Forbes.