NBCBLK28 2017

Meet the NBCBLK28 of 2017: 28 innovators, vanguards, trendsetters and pioneers under 28 years old. They are redefining what it means to be young, gifted & unapologetically Black. Follow their stories.

  • YARA SHAHIDI

    YARA SHAHIDI

    THE ACTING ACTIVIST. Yara Shahidi is best known for her work on the hit show "black-ish" but she also uses her platform to speak out on the intersection of race and feminism, as well as the importance of media representation of young people of color. Feb. 1

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  • Khoudia Diop

    KHOUDIA DIOP

    KHOUDIA DIOP

    THE MELANIN GODDESS: The Senegalese-born model was bullied for her ebony complexion growing up, but now she’s an inspiration to many young women. Khoudia Diop recently signed a modeling contract with an agency called The Colored Girl Inc., an agency that is changing the narrative of what it means to be Black and beautiful. Feb. 2

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  • Image: Marques Brownlee

    MARQUES BROWNLEE

    MARQUES BROWNLEE

    DOPE TECH. When he’s not dominating on the field as a pro ultimate frisbee player, Marques Brownlee is captivating millions of viewers as a tech reviewer and influencer on YouTube. Known online as MKBHD, he started his channel in high school and now the 23-year-old has over 4 million subscribers for his fresh perspective on all things tech. Feb. 3

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  • Arizona Cardinals v Houston Texans

    SIMONE MANUEL

    SIMONE MANUEL

    BEST STROKE. Simone Manuel took home four medals at the 2016 Olympic Games: Gold in the 100m free and 400m medley relay, Silver in the 50m free and 400m free relay. Her Gold in the 100m free was history making - it was the first for the U.S. in the event since 1984 and the first-ever individual gold medal for a Black female swimmer. Feb. 4

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  • Denver Broncos v New Orleans Saints

    VON MILLER

    VON MILLER

    TACKLING SIGHT: Von Miller is a five-time Pro Bowler, Super Bowl MVP and the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL. Off the field, Von has committed to making life easier for low-income kids, giving back to the Denver community in his free time through his nonprofit, Von's Vision, which provides low-income Denver children with eye care and corrective eyewear. Feb. 5

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  • Image: Maya D Jones

    MYYA D. JONES

    MYYA D. JONES

    THE SERVANT LEADER. While she finishes up her final semester at Michigan State University, this 22-year-old Detroit native is also running for Mayor of Detroit. A leader on campus and former Capitol Hill intern for Rep. Brenda Lawrence, Myya Jones has already had a jump start to her political career. She hopes to make big changes in her city. Feb. 6

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  • Isaiah Cooper

    ISAIAH COOPER

    ISAIAH COOPER

    THE AVIATOR. This pilot from Compton became the youngest African-American to fly an airplane around the continental United States in 2016. Isaiah Cooper is now determined to break the Guinness World Record for being the youngest person to fly solo around the Earth. Feb. 7

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  • Image: Samuel Sinyangwe

    SAMUEL SINYANGWE

    SAMUEL SINYANGWE

    THE INNOVATIVE ACTIVIST. Samuel Sinyangwe is a policy analyst and data scientist working with communities of color to fight systemic racism through cutting-edge strategies. He is a co-founder of Campaign Zero, a data-informed platform presents comprehensive solutions to end police violence in America. It integrates community demands and policy recommendations from research organizations and the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Feb. 8

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  • Image: Muktar Onifade

    MUKTAR ONIFADE

    MUKTAR ONIFADE

    FASHION ENGINEER: Muktar Onifade works at General Motors as a calibrations engineer. He also brings his technical skill to design high-end streetwear. Now in its third collection, Onifade’s fashion label, VIZUVLGVDS (aka “Visual Gods”), combines the precision and chemistry of engineering with his Nigerian heritage. Every piece is hand-stitched by Onifade in his Detroit studio. Feb. 9

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  • Image: Darius Jones

    DARIUS JONES

    DARIUS JONES

    KEEPING IT GREEN. As a teen growing up on Chicago’s West Side, Darius Jones found himself in trouble with the law. But his two years at Cook County Jail led him to a garden boot camp and urban agriculture. He now manages Garfield Produce, an indoor vertical farm and a licensed wholesale food establishment in the City of Chicago. Feb. 10

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  • Image: Jessica Matthews

    JESSICA O. MATTHEWS

    JESSICA O. MATTHEWS

    THE INVENTOR. Jessica O. Matthews has been called “the Elon Musk of kinetic energy.” After the power suddenly went out at her aunt’s wedding in Nigeria, Jessica decided to invent the SOCCKET ball, an energy-generating soccer ball that provides off-grid power for the developing world. She founded Uncharted Play, a renewable energy company specializing in motion-based, miniaturized power systems. Feb. 11

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  • Image: Chance the Rapper

    CHANCE THE RAPPER

    CHANCE THE RAPPER

    THE LYRICIST. Chancelor Bennett, better known to his fans as Chance the Rapper, woke up America with his jazz-infused, uplifting and spiritual rap lyrics in the 2016 album "Coloring Book." The unsigned artist is nominated for 7 Grammys this year. Last fall Chance teamed up with the NAACP for the #StayWokeandVote campaign where he held voter registration at his concert tour stops. Feb 12.

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  • Image: Brit Bennett

    BRIT BENNETT

    BRIT BENNETT

    THE WRITER. The Stanford and University of Michigan grad is just 26 but her debut novel “The Mothers” recently earned her recognition as one of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 30. "The Mothers" looks at the lives of three young people being watched and talked about from afar by church mothers. Feb. 13

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  • Yahdon Israel

    YAHDON ISRAEL

    YAHDON ISRAEL

    THE LITERARY SWAG. Yahdon Israel has been called "Chance the Rapper" of the lit world. The Brooklynite interweaves cultural criticism, social commentary, and personal narrative writing about race, class, gender, politics, and power in America. He also runs a book club and a popular Instagram page which promotes literature and fashion with the hashtag, #literaryswag. Feb. 14

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  • Image: Verlando Brown

    VERLANDO BROWN

    VERLANDO BROWN

    THE URBAN HEALTH ADVOCATE: Verlando Brown is the program coordinator for the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute. His role is to help plan events, programs, and logistics around social issues in Baltimore. The Baltimore City native says his mother believed that education was the gateway education to get out of poverty. Feb. 15

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  • Image: Michael Tubbs

    MICHAEL TUBBS

    MICHAEL TUBBS

    THE YOUNG MAYOR. Michael Tubbs made history this election when he became Stockton, California’s first and youngest Black mayor at just 26. He didn’t come from a politically connected family, his father was incarcerated. A lot of young people leave home and never look back, but this Stanford University grad came back to his community to make a difference instead of going to Wall Street. Feb. 16

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  • Image: Claressa Shields

    CLARESSA SHIELDS

    CLARESSA SHIELDS

    THE GOLDEN GLOVES: Claressa is the only American boxer to win consecutive Olympic gold medals in London and Rio. The young champ recently won her pro boxing debut by unanimous decision in November. One announcer called her “the Tiger Woods” of women’s boxing, expressing the belief that she could truly boost the sport. Feb. 17

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  • Derrick Morgan

    DERRICK MORGAN

    DERRICK MORGAN

    THE BUSINESS ATHLETE. The Titans linebacker didn’t wait for retirement to kick-start a career in tech. Derrick Morgan is a graduate of University of Miami’s executive MBA program. He co-founded Opportunity Ecosystem, a group that helps angel investors, pro athletes, and Black-owned banks to invest in minority-owned, early stage tech companies. His new effort, Huddle Ventures officially launches at SXSW. Feb. 18

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  • Singer Kane Brown poses for a portrait in the 2016 CMT Music Awards.

    KANE BROWN

    KANE BROWN

    SOUL COUNTRY. This Country singer became a viral sensation after posting videos of himself singing country songs on Facebook. He released his self-titled major label debut album in December 2016 and it shot to #1 on Billboard country chart, becoming the biggest country debut for a new artist in more than two years. The singer-songwriter co-penned seven of the album’s 11 tracks. Feb. 19

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  • Image: Quintin James

    QUENTIN JAMES

    QUENTIN JAMES

    THE STRATEGIST. Quentin James is the Co-Founder of Vestige Strategies, LLC, a top civic and community engagement consulting firm in the nation. Quentin has created outreach initiatives that recruited over 50,000 African American donors. He started The Collective PAC, a political action committee focused on building Black political power by electing Black candidates on the local, state and federal level. Feb. 20

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  • Image: Richard Love

    RICHARD LOVE

    RICHARD LOVE

    THE TESTIMONY. Richard Love is an artist, musician and mentor serving as the creative program manager with Teens With A Purpose, a non-profit dedicated to helping urban youth find and express themselves through the arts. Known to his peers as “Testimony,” he creates dynamic music and poetry that challenges complacency. Feb. 21

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  • Image: Kelsey Kendra

    KELSEY & KENDRA MURRELL

    KELSEY & KENDRA MURRELL

    DOUBLE THE GLAM: Lifestyle and beauty vloggers Kelsey & Kendra Murrell, better known as The GlamTwinz, are rising YouTube stars who are encouraging women to embrace their natural beauty. The sisters have created a digital empire with two thriving YouTube Channels and a widely popular fashion blog. They recently published their first book, "The GlamTwinz Guide To Longer, Healthier Hair." Feb. 22

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  • Image: Christen Johnson

    CHRISTEN JOHNSON

    CHRISTEN JOHNSON

    THE DOCTOR. Christen Johnson is the president of the Student National Medical Association, the organization devoted to diversifying the medical profession by encouraging more African-Americans to become doctors. Under her leadership, the group is pushing to level medicine’s racial and ethnic playing field. A key issue for her: Establishing bias training for doctors and ensuring that health policies are fair and equitable. Feb. 23

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  • CLIFF VMIR

    CLIFF VMIR

    THE HAIR SLAYING MASTER. Just 19, the prodigy stylist has one motto: Invest in your hair, it's the crown you never take off. From a young age, Cliff Vmir had a passion for styling hair and by 16 he was averaging $350 per day doing hair in the basement of his home. The celeb stylist now has his own hair care line. Feb. 24

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  • Actress Denee Benton poses for photos in the Swarovski Store before the Swarovski Star Raising at Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.

    DENÉE BENTON

    DENÉE BENTON

    BROADWAY STAR. Denée Benton is making her Broadway debut opposite Josh Groban in the musical, "Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812" at the Imperial Theatre. She also starred as Nabulungi in the West End and US National Tour of "The Book of Mormon." Benton can currently be seen in Season 2 of Lifetime's hit television series, "UnREAL," as Ruby. Feb. 25

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  • "Queen Sugar" Press Conference

    KOFI SIRIBOE

    KOFI SIRIBOE

    THE RISING STAR. Kofi Siriboe is captivating Hollywood, currently redefining the complexities of Black manhood as Ralph Angel Bordelon in the Oprah Winfrey Network drama, "Queen Sugar." Kofi began acting at age six after an encounter with an agent at a Beverly Hills shopping mall. Feb. 26

  • Image: Briana Babineaux

    BRIANA BABINEAUX

    BRIANA BABINEAUX

    THE GOSPEL SONGSTRESS: Briana Babineaux quickly went from viral video sensation to touring in support of her critically acclaimed debut album, "Keys To My Heart." The spellbinding singer has become one of the most buzzed about singers on social media and counts stars like Rihanna and Drake among her 480K Instagram fans. Feb. 27

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  • Kia Labeija

    KIA LABEIJA

    KIA LABEIJA

    THE ARTISTIC HEALER. Dancer, activist, and visual artist, she is a major presence on NYC's ballroom scene and an outspoken HIV and AIDS activist. “24,” LaBeija’s self-portrait photography series was the only work by a woman of color born with HIV to be featured in Arts AIDS America, an exhibition exploring the impact HIV and AIDS have had on American art and culture. Feb. 28

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