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Marley Dias looked for #1000BlackGirlBooks, wins Dream Big award and ends up a national hero

Marley Dias is a super smart girl. At only 11, she had the critical thinking skills to recognize that there was a lack of diversity (and imagination) in the books she was reading (I certainly wouldn’t have been able to infer such a thing at that age).

She kept reading books about white boys and their dogs (can someone say white patriarchal hegemony?). For a black girl of Jamaican descent, these tales seemed too limiting. It’s not that she didn’t appreciate them--it’s just that she wanted to read stories of other people from other cultures as well.

So she started the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign. She set out to find 1,000 children’s books featuring black female protagonists. At first, she didn’t expect to hit her target. Were there even that many books out there?

But soon her story hopped on the social media express and Marley began appearing on TV shows with enormous reach like The Ellen Degeneres Show and The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.  

With her newly elevated profile, she hit her goal of 1,000 books and (keeping a few favorites for herself) donated them to schools. For the record, Marley’s favorite book is Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.

For anyone trying to start a successful grassroots campaign, take note. Marley’s campaign is the perfect example: clear goal, inspiring message, strong social media strategy, and charismatic spokesperson.

I’m sure this won’t be the last successful campaign from Marley. She’s a force for good who understands that education, and more specifically reading, is the key to self-empowerment.

On International Pretty Brown Girl Day (which takes place the 4th Saturday of every Black History Month),  Marley will receive the “Dream Big Award.”

Maybe Marley’s next big dream can be #BlackGirlPresident. Or maybe she can team up with Malala and Michelle Obama for their #62MillionGirls campaign, which aims to bring education to every girl in the world.

What big idea would you like to see Marley take on next? Shout it out in the comments.