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'We the Future' exhibit in Seattle highlights the work of 10 young activists from around the country

Ashley Gross
The `We the Future' exhibit runs through March 21, 2020, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center in Seattle.

The recent climate strike is the latest example of the ways young people are raising their voices for change. A new exhibit at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center in Seattle highlights the work of 10 young activists.

One is the child of undocumented immigrants fighting against family separation. Another is a hip hop artist and climate activist, and a third young man, Ismael Nazario, is working on prison reform. He has first-hand experience after having been incarcerated on Rikers Island in New York.

Credit Munk One / courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center
courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center
A portrait of Ismael Nazario by the artist Munk One

“Jails are actually supposed to rehabilitate a person, not cause him or her to become more angry, frustrated and feel more hopeless,” Nazario said in a TED Talk. “Since there’s not a discharge plan put in place for these young people, they pretty much reenter society with nothing.”

Another young person profiled in the exhibit is Amanda Gorman, who in 2017 was chosen to be the first U.S. Youth Poet Laureate. Earlier this year, she recited her Independence Day poem accompanied by the Boston Pops Orchestra.

Luis Ortega is one of the curators of the exhibit. He said the young leaders are working on different issues, but they all are trying to make the world a more inclusive and accepting place.

“They want to make sure we create spaces where refugees are welcome, where being a queer person doesn’t make you different, where being a disabled person doesn’t make you different,” Ortega said.

The exhibit is called "We the Future." The 10 activists featured are not from Washington state, but the exhibition will also highlight 100 local youth leaders, including Kidist Habte, a student from Seattle's Rainier Beach High School who is pushing for more equitable school funding.

The Gates Discovery Center will hold a community celebration of the exhibit on Saturday with performances and poetry. It’s free and open to the public.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.