In recognition of her amazing work in promoting diversity in children’s books, Marley Dias, 16, received the Souls of Justice award at the 2021 Soul Train Awards during the ceremony, televised on Sunday (Nov. 28).
At age 11, Marley was fed up with reading books about white boys and their dogs, according to Forbes. She rarely, if ever, saw characters who looked like her, a little Black girl, in the books she read at school. So, the self-starter decided to do something about it.
In November 2015, the young game-changer launched a campaign called #1000BlackGirlBooks. She set out to collect and donate 1,000 books that feature black girls as the main character by February 2016. Today, she has accumulated more than 13,000 books and has landed a book deal of her own.
Along the way, the young activist has received lots of deserved recognition, including Forbes naming her the youngest 30 Under 30 honorees, in the 2018 class.
Marley is now an author. In 2019, she released a book titled Marley Dias Gets it Done And So Can You. The book explores activism, social justice, volunteerism, equity and inclusion, and using social media for good.
In 2021, Marley was named an Ambassador of National Educational Association (NEA) Read Across America.
She’s also a host and executive producer of Netflix’s Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices. The live-action series is similar to the iconic Reading Rainbow. It features celebrities reading book by Black authors to children and leading discussions about empathy, equality, self-love and antiracism, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
“Netflix reached out and really pitched the project to me. I was immediately excited because I know that [it’s] obviously an opportunity to host, but especially to host something that I cared so passionately about,” Marley said. “They know that I care about the books that are being told and I recommend some of these books to people all the time. So I have a deep, personal and professional connection to Bookmarks.”