Photo via: Mary-Pat Hector
You’ll want to remember the name Mary-Pat Hector.
This year, at 19 years old, Hector became the youngest woman and person of color to run for office in Georgia when she made a bid for a seat on the Stonecrest City Council. However, the now Spelman College junior, started working her passion for politics and organizing long before she made political history.
At just 11 years old, Hector organized her first sit-in, as she figured if her community of Stone Mountain, Georgia could build a juvenile justice center, that they surely had the resources to build a recreation facility. After calling into Reverend Al Sharpton’s radio talk show to bring more attention to the cause, Hector accomplished her goal and a year and a half later Stone Mountain had a recreation facility.
By 13, Hector became the first national youth director of Sharpton’s National Action Network, an organization that advocates for civil rights. Then two years later, she launched a campaign called “Think Twice” to raise gun violence awareness. The campaign caught the attention of thousands, including the national organization Peace First, which is committed to investing and nurturing the ideas of young peacemakers. Hector went on to become a Peace First Prize Fellow. As a fellow, she was awarded $50,000 for her anti-gun violence campaign, which has since turned into a nationwide movement.
I was surprised by the CEO of Allstate Tom Wilson with this billboard and told that there would be hundreds more just like it because I was a “role model” for kids who should start young all over the country! I grew up in Atlanta with dreams of changing the world. Never knew by having a good heart I could reach so many. Thanks to “WE”, I’ve formed a relationship with Allstate so WE can tackle issues like violence together.
“I think a lot more of adults are starting to pay attention to me after the Peace First Prize. A lot of people thought I was a liability,” said Hector during an event at the Milken Institute in 2014. “Thought ‘she’s just a 16-year-old girl with these big dreams.’ But it wasn’t until… Peace First really believed enough in me to invest $50,000 dollars.”
Now, Hector, who unfortunately didn’t win a seat on city council, continues to show young people how they too can change the world, saying: “You don’t have to wait to be great. You can change the world now.”
That being said, if you know a young people, tell them to visit peacefirst.org by December 31st to join the Peace First Challenge, a “global call-to-action to all young people to join a community of peacemakers dedicated to finding compassionate solutions to the world’s problems.”