Young Americans are often discouraged from participating in government and political discussions. A quick search will bring you to several headlines characterizing millennials as “lazy,” “incoherent” and “selfish;” the general impression is that they simply do not know enough to effectively contribute. However, two young women are seeking to prove these stereotypes wrong once and for all.
Mary-Pat Hector, a sophomore at Spelman College in Atlanta is running for a city council seat for Stonecrest, Georgia, home to 50,000 people. Hector is not new to community service—her activism began at the age of nine, writing a play to bring awareness to child abuse, and even recently received national recognition from President Obama for her work against gun violence. Though the 19-year-old has encountered some backlash following her campaign announcement (her opponent called into question Hector’s eligibility to run and capability of fulfilling the job’s duties if elected), the Board of Registrations and Elections has ruled in her favor. The election for city council will be held later this month, on March 21.
In Detroit, 22-year-old Myya D. Jones has her sights set high, and is seeking to be her city’s next mayor. Jones is currently studying business management at Michigan State University and says her interest in politics began after a summer internship working with members of Congress. She acknowledges that Detroit has been suffering for many years, so her campaign is focused around rebuilding and revitalizing the city’s neighborhoods to encourage tourism and private businesses. As someone living with bipolar disorder and as a sexual abuse survivor, Jones is also determined to improve the health and mental health services offered by her community. The Detroit mayoral election will be held on November 17th of this year.
The initiative and passion demonstrated by these two women is key to shifting the narrative around the young citizens of the United States. Their active involvement in the politics of their communities is groundbreaking, and offers encouragement for other millennials to do the same. It is a shining light for others that their voices can and will be heard, and that change is possible.