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12 Black Kids Who Rocked The World in 2016

The future looks so much brighter with these young people in it.

12/16/2016 03:33 pm ET

2016 has been a terrible year, but the actions of young people have made it just a little bit brighter.

This year, kids impacted how we look at business, entertainment, social justice and more by using their talents and voices for good. 

Little Miss Flint, for example, helped turn the nation’s attention to Flint, Michigan’s devastating water crisis. Marley Dias collected more than 7,000 books in which the main character was a black girl to give to charity. And “Black-ish” star Yara Shahidi was consistently outspoken about inclusion and representation in Hollywood.

There were so many black kids and teens who made a difference this year. We’ve rounded up 12 young people who stood out and made 2016 better for all of us. 

  • Mari “Little Miss Flint” Copeny, 8
    JIM WATSON via Getty Images
    In the midst of a water crisis in her city, Little Miss Flint turned the nation’s attention to a serious issue that was being ignored. She wrote to President Barack Obama asking him to visit Flint, Michigan to meet her and address the devastating crisis. He gratefully obliged
  • Yara Shahidi, 16
    Rich Polk via Getty Images
    Shahidi shined this year in more ways than one. Aside from killing it on “Black-ish” every week, the teen was consistently outspoken about representation in Hollywood, climate change and youth empowerment. Though she can’t vote yet, Shahidi was very vocal about the importance of others exercising their right. She even interviewed Rep. John Lewis at the Democratic National Convention this year. 
  • Mikaila Ulmer, 12
    Jim Bennett via Getty Images
    Mikaila Ulmer literally turned lemons into lemonade. She began selling lemonade made with honey in an effort to save the bees. This year, Whole Foods offered her an $11 million deal and shelf space in 55 stores across the country. 
  • Cameron Sterling, 15
    Jim Tanner / Reuters
    Cameron Sterling was unfortunately thrust into the public eye when his dad, Alton Sterling, was fatally shot by police in front of a Baton Rouge gas station. Though his response was reasonably emotional during a press conference after Alton’s death, Cameron told the world that his dad’s life mattered. “I really want everyone to know, everyone nationwide, everyone in this world, to know that Alton Sterling was a good man,” Cameron said. “No matter what anyone else has to say about him, truly in my heart, I know he was a good dad.”
  • Chloe x Halle, 18 and 16
    Taylor Hill via Getty Images
    These sisters rose from YouTube fame and found a seat at Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment table. The incredibly talented singers, who released their debut EP this year, have been on the rise. They even caught Michelle Obama’s attention
  • Marley Dias, 12
    Gilbert Carrasquillo via Getty Images
    Marley’s year started off strong in January when she was “sick of reading books about white boys and dogs.” She collected more than 7,000 books in which the main characters are black girls for her donation drive #1000BlackGirlBooks. Marley also interviewed Hillary Clinton for her zine on Elle called “Marley’s Mag.”
  • Egypt Ufele, 10
    After being bullied because of her size, Egypt Ufele decided to channel the negativity she was receiving into something positive. So Egypt learned to sew and design clothes. In February, she debuted her clothing line for all sizes, Chubiiline, at New York Fashion Week. 
  • Skai Jackson, 14
    Gregg DeGuire via Getty Images
    Disney actress Skai Jackson is a remarkable role model thanks to her self-confidence. She was a good sport when the internet turned her into a meme and showed nothing but class when she stood up to Azealia Banks’ cyberbullying. She told The Huffington Post that she doesn’t pay attention to the haters, “I’m just rooting for myself.”
  • Zianna Oliphant, 9
    BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI via Getty Images
    Zianna Oliphant made headlines when she gave a moving speech during a townhall in Charlotte, North Carolina after the death of Keith Lamont Scott. “It’s a shame that our fathers and mothers are killed and we can’t see them anymore,” she said.
  • Nyeeam Hudson, 11
    Nyeeam “King Nahh” Hudson spreads the message of self-love and confidence to his peers and their parents through his powerful motivational speeches. With more than 75,000 followers on Instagram, Nyeeam offers advice on how to deal with bullies and encourages others to value education.
  • Malia Obama, 18
    Kevin Mazur via Getty Images
    Despite receiving some brutal criticism, Malia Obama lived her best life this year. The daughter of the leader of the free world gotaccepted to Harvard University earlier this year and partied at festivals like she didn’t have a care in the world. Despite the cruel and racist language many people have spewed at her, Malia showed the world exactly what a the black teenager of the president should be: a teenager.
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