Marley Dias is not your typical 11-year-old. While she enjoys hanging out with friends and keeping up with pop culture, she is also a fierce organizer who has launched an international book drive — #1000BlackGirlBook — to get more diversity into her and everyone else’s schools libraries.
Marley’s concern over the lack of black lead characters in the books assigned to most children her age has tasked herself, and anyone else who is willing to participate, with starting her own book drive with the goal of collecting 1,000 books with black girls as the main character(s) by February 1st, 2016.
“I told her I was sick of reading about white boys and dogs,” Dias told Philly Voice. “‘What are you going to do about it?’ [my mom] asked. And I told her I was going to start a book drive, and a specific book drive, where black girls are the main characters in the book and not background characters or minor characters.”
Through support from contributors like Scholastic Books, she is already halfway to her goal.
The website Welovebam.com has been created by Marley — the “M” in “bam” — and her two closest friends Briana (the “B”) and Amina (the “A). The site features their current social action campaign as well as local and international issues and call to actions. Some of their past activities include serving as ambassadors and traveling to Ghana to feed the poor, organizing and participating in volunteer activities in their local soup kitchen, and — through a grant from Disney— bringing a sense of normalcy and compassion to homeless women and children living in their local YMCA by hosting a book fair, a fashion show, and a petting zoo.
What’s next for Marley and her friends? On February 18th, they will travel to Jamaica to deliver the books and host a book fair. Marley and her friends are proving that you can be an influencer of social change at any age.