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Five Climate Activists of Color Who Lead the Movement

Posted on April 20 2021

Five Climate Activists of Color Who Lead the Movement


Graphic and words by Ali Harford 


Climate change is one of the most pressing issues the world faces and is increasingly becoming an issue of environmental justice. Socially and economically disadvantaged communities face the greatest risks associated with effects of climate change, because they have systemically been left out of the conversations that allocate resources. Climate change is already causing extreme weather events and warming temperatures, which can be detrimental to communities that don’t have the money to rebuild or don’t have access to health care. 

In the U.S., most of those disadvantaged communities are made up of people of color

Last year for Earth Day, we wrote about 10 climate action heroes. This year, we’re updating that list to include five climate activists of color who are leading the movement. 



1. Leah Thomas

Leah Thomas is the founder of Intersectional Environmentalist, a “media and resource hub” that has the intention of “bringing social justice to the forefront of conversations within environmental spaces.” The organization partners with companies to promote the message of inclusive environmentalism and provide consulting. Leah has also written for Vogue magazine, on “Why Every Environmentalist Should Be Anti-Racist.”



2. Francia Márquez

Francia Márquez is a Colombian activist who is recognized as one of the most influential social leaders in Colombia. She is currently running in the 2022 Colombian presidential race.  She gained international notability in 2018, when she won the Goldman Environmental Prize for her work to eliminate illegal gold mining on her community’s ancestral territory.



3. Zanagee Artis

Zanagee Artis is the Co-Founder and Policy Director of This is Zero Hour, an organization whose mission is to “center the voices of diverse youth in the conversation around climate and environmental justice.” The organization provides training and resources for young activists. Artis also participated in the 2018 Youth Climate March.



4. Varshini Prakash

Varshini Prakash is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Sunrise Movement, a youth “climate revolution” with the intention to make climate change policy a priority and “create millions of good jobs in the process.” The movement organizes protests, creates pledges, and uses its resources to elect officials who support the Green New Deal.



5. Xiye Bastida

Xiye Bastida is a Co-Founder of the Re-Earth Initiative and organizer with Fridays for Future. The Re-Earth Initiative aims to make the climate movement accessible, especially to young people. The initiative organizes webinars and writing toolkits to include people who may not be able to participate in traditional protests. Fridays for Future is a global strike movement for climate that started with Greta Thunberg.  


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