13-year-old girl leads protests to fight against social justice issues

BOSTON — Jay’dha Bell Rackard has a passion for dance, medicine, and social justice.

She was just 11 years old when she spoke in front of a crowd of thousands at the Black Lives Matter Peaceful Children’s March in June of 2020. She opened with an MLK quote about equality.

“There has not been equality for a while, whether it’s for women or African Americans. Just equality in general,” Jay’dha said.

But it wasn’t the first time she’s helped lead a protest. As a student at Orchard Park Elementary school, she spoke about the deplorable conditions on the school grounds. These conditions included kids finding and sometimes getting stuck with needles.

“It was kind of impressive. I didn’t think as many people would come out to support the cause. Especially me doing it as a kid.”

Now 13 years old, she recently won a $20,000 grant to fund a COVID self-care workshop for girls ages 10-14.

“You have to have self-care for yourself to go out and do other things if that makes sense,” Jay’dha said.

[What do you see as the biggest issue that young people are facing right now, especially young people of color?]

“Not being listened to at all. A lot of kids don’t speak up about what they want to do r who they want to be because they do not listen to enough,” Jay’dha said.

Published in local and national publications, Jay’dha’s message to other kids is never to let anyone tell you what you’re fighting for is not important.

“If you feel like you don’t have a voice and are not being listened to, still speak up about it. Cause you never know what can go on,” Jay’dha said.