She’s advocating for more diversity in literature.
"Frustration is fuel that can lead to the development of an innovative and useful idea," Marley Dias previously told reporters when speaking about how she got here.
In 2015, it was 11-year-old Marley’s frustration with not seeing herself represented in children’s literature that served as the catalyst for the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign. An initiative aimed at collecting as many books as possible with Black girls as main characters, Marley sought to donate these books to various communities, helping to raise awareness about the need for more diversity in books.
The campaign did more than well, with Marley collecting more than 10,000 books and garnering more than 10 billion media impressions to date. The mission went viral, sparking an international movement with Marley at the center, earning her a book deal, Netflix show, and an honor as a National Ambassador of the National Education Association’s (NEA) Read Across America program. It is Marley’s hope that she can make diverse educational materials more accessible, emphasizing the importance of allowing students to see themselves reflected in stories.
Her work has led to even more conversations surrounding book banning in schools and systems of oppression that keep school curriculums limited. Marley has taken her cause to the White House, the Forbes Women’s Summit, and the United Nations Girl Up program. She was named one of the 25 most influential teens by TIME magazine in 2018 and is the youngest person to date honored on Forbes 30 under 30 list. Now a student at Harvard, Marley is excited to study how to better impact these systems and use her platform for more advocacy work in the future.
“My vision for the future is a world where learning, in all its forms, is accessible and honest. The work I’ve done through the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign has further emphasized the individual and systemic benefits of investing in diverse education…in my perfect future, learning is reframed as a practice both in and out the classroom - one that includes all of us,” Marley told Because Of Them We Can.
Deeply inspired by her work with the NEA, Marley believes there are many educators and authors who have given her hope “about the possibility of inter-generational change” in education. She encourages people to support her by gifting her book “Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You!” to children, educators, and communities, inspiring others to action. Marley has also created a resource guide of more than 500 books with Black girls as the main character.
You can support Marley by visiting her site at www.marleydias.com.
Congratulations Marley on becoming one of BOTWC’s 2023 Young Frontrunners. Because of you, we can! To view all the amazing 2023 Young Frontrunners, visit botwc.com/youngfrontrunners.
Cover photo: 2023 ‘Young Frontrunner’ honoree Marley Dias is building a world with Black girls at the center/Photo Courtesy of Marley Dias/BecauseOfThemWeCan