Special Message from NBC News’ Lester Holt
About the #NBCBLK28
This February, NBCBLK will honor 28 game changers, all 28 years and younger, for 28 days. The list will debut on February 1st and each day following, NBCBLK will reveal a profile of an entrepreneur, policy maker, athlete, entertainer, activist, or artist. Some of them are household names, others are unsung heroes. NBCBLK will also host artist chats and social media takeovers. The stories will be placed on a unique feature page: www.nbcblk28.com. The hashtag is #NBCBLK28.

How we chose the NBCBLK28
Candidates selected are leaders in their industry. They are breaking barriers and smashing stereotypes about the black community/diaspora, redefining what it means to be Black in America. They are young, gifted, and unapologetically Black. Their accomplishments are aligned with the NBCBLK mission: Elevating the conversation on black identity, politics, and culture. The jurists selecting the honorees come from editorial ranks throughout NBC News broadcast and digital platforms.

See this year's 28! Click on their photos to read more about them below the photo grid.
Chance the Rapper
Chance the Rapper, Rapper, Activist, Age 23
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois


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 has co-written for Kanye West and 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.

Website: http://chanceraps.com
Twitter: @chancetherapper
Kane Brown, Country Music Singer
Kane Brown, Country Music Singer, Age 23
Hometown: Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia


Country singer Kane Brown became a viral sensation after posting videos of himself singing pop songs on YouTube. He released his self-titled major label debut album in December 2016, and it shot to #1 on Billboard’s country chart, becoming the biggest country debut for a new artist in more than two years. The singer-songwriter -- who had a tough childhood, even living out of a car with his mom at one point -- co-penned seven of the album’s 11 tracks.

Website: http://kanebrownmusic.com
Twitter: @kanebrown
Facebook: kaneallenbrown
Instagram: @kanebrown_music
TODAY Show: Live Performance
Kofi Siriboe, Actor
Kofi Siriboe, Actor, Age 22
Hometown: Los Angeles, California


Kofi Siriboe is an up and coming star, 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. Audiences were introduced to the handsome actor in the 2008 film The Longshots, and since then, he’s starred in movies like Whiplash and Straight Outta Compton.

Twitter: @kofisiriboe
Denée Benton, Broadway Actress
Denée Benton, Broadway Actress, Age 26
Hometown: Orlando, Florida


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.

Twitter: @DeneeBenton
Yara Shahidi, Actress/Activist
Yara Shahidi, Actress/Activist, Age 16
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota


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. She recently guest-edited Teen Vogue's youth activism-focused December issue in between applying for college and diligently taking her online AP classes. In October, the STEM advocate joined Michelle Obama to co-host a panel on the importance of education for girls in the US and around the world.

Twitter: @YaraShahidi
Briana Babineaux, Gospel Music Singer
Briana Babineaux, Gospel Music Singer, Age 22
Hometown: Lafayette, Louisiana


Briana Babineaux has been called the ‘Justin Bieber of Gospel Music’ because of how quickly she went from helming viral videos 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.

Website: http://www.brination.org
Twitter: @BrianaBabineaux
Instagram: @simply_bebe_
Myya D. Jones, Candidate for Mayor of Detroit
Myya D. Jones, Candidate for Mayor of Detroit, Age 22
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan


Myya D. Jones was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. She is a senior at Michigan State University, and at 22 years old, she is running for Mayor of Detroit. Though still in school, she has an early start in politics. She has interned on Capitol Hill, studied abroad in six countries, and is a former Google Student Ambassador.

Website: https://www.myyadjones.com
Twitter: @MyyaDJones
Instagram: myyadjones
Kelsey and Kendra Murrell, YouTube Beauty Vloggers, Authors
Kelsey and Kendra Murrell, YouTube Beauty Vloggers, Authors, Age 23
Hometown: Montgomery, Alabama
Current City: Atlanta, Georgia


Highly sought-after lifestyle and beauty vloggers Kelsey and Kendra Murrell -- better known as The GlamTwinz -- are rising YouTube stars who are encouraging women to embrace their natural beauty. The sisters have turned their passion into a digital empire with two thriving YouTube Channels and an online clothing and accessories store. The twins recently published their first book, The GlamTwinz Guide To Longer, Healthier Hair.

Website: http://www.theglamtwinz.com
Twitter: Kelsey Murrell @glamtwinkels1 / Kendra Murrell @GlamtwinKen2
Jessica O. Matthews, Founder, Uncharted Play
Jessica O. Matthews, Founder, Uncharted Play, Age 28
Hometown: Poughkeepsie, New York
Current City: New York City


Jessica O. Matthews has been called "the Elon Musk of kinetic energy." At just 19, Jessica invented the SOCCKET ball, an energy generating soccer ball that provides off-grid power for the developing world. She got the idea when the power suddenly went out at her aunt’s wedding in Nigeria. By 22, she founded Uncharted Play, a renewable energy company specializing in motion-based, miniaturized power systems. Jessica serves as an Ambassador of Entrepreneurship for Nigeria, and her research centers around the intersection of disruptive technology and human behavior. Jessica has a degree in psychology and economics from Harvard University, and an MBA from Harvard.

Website: http://www.unchartedplay.com
Twitter: @Jess_O_Matt
Muktar Onifade, GM Engineer, Fashion Designer
Muktar Onifade, GM Engineer, Fashion Designer, Age 26
Hometown: St. Providence, Rhode Island & Lagos, Nigeria
Current City: Detroit, Michigan


Muktar Onifade works at General Motors as a calibrations engineer, where he is responsible for developing, validating and posting engine control module calibrations for all vehicles and engine combination programs in North America. Onifade uses his engineering talent and 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 Onifade’s Nigerian heritage. Every piece is hand stitched by Onifade in his Detroit studio.

Website: http://www.vizuvlgvds.com
Twitter: @VIZUVLGVDS
Cliff Vmir, Celebrity Hair Stylist, Hair Care Entrepreneur
Cliff Vmir, Celebrity Hair Stylist, Hair Care Entrepreneur, Age 19
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


This 19-year-old prodigy stylist has one motto: Invest in your hair, it's the crown you never take off. From a very young age, Cliff Vmir had a passion for styling hair, and by age 16, he was averaging $350 per day doing hair in the basement of his home. Cliff has created his own line of hair products, established himself as a celebrity stylist, and offers hair/makeup tutorials.

Twitter: @cliffmir
Isaiah Cooper, Pilot
Isaiah Cooper, Pilot, Age 16
Hometown: Compton, California


This pilot from Compton became the youngest African-American to fly an airplane around the continental United States in 2016. He is now determined to break the Guinness World Record for being the youngest person to fly solo around the Earth. It all started when he enrolled in an aviation youth program at Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum, a Compton-based youth organization that provides at-risk youth the opportunity to learn how to become pilots.
Darius Jones, VP & General Manager, Garfield Produce
Darius Jones, VP & General Manager, Garfield Produce, Age 25
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois


As a teen growing up on Chicago’s West Side, Darius Jones got in trouble with the law. He pleaded guilty to a felony and spent two years locked up. But the time spent at Cook County Jail led him to a garden boot camp. And that garden program led him to his life’s work: urban agriculture. He now manages Garfield Produce, an indoor vertical farm and a licensed wholesale food establishment in the City of Chicago. The company was formed with the social mission of building sustainable wealth and creating employment in Chicago’s impoverished areas, while growing some of the highest quality produce in the city.

Website: http://www.garfieldproduce.com
Twitter: @d_djones3
Marques Brownlee, YouTube Tech Reviewer/Influencer
Marques Brownlee, YouTube Tech Reviewer/Influencer, Age 23
Hometown: Maplewood, New Jersey


When he’s not dominating on the field as a pro ultimate frisbee player, Marques Brownlee is captivating millions of viewers as a widely successful tech reviewer and influencer on YouTube. Since he started his channel as a high school student, developing it throughout his college career at the Stevens Institute of Technology in NJ, Marques has grown a huge fan base of over 4 million subscribers on YouTube for his fresh perspective on all things tech. Marques was also one of several YouTube stars selected to ask a question during the 2016 Democratic Debate.

Youtube: marquesbrownlee
Twitter: @MKBHD
Michael Tubbs, Stockton, California’s first and youngest Black Mayor
Michael Tubbs, Stockton, California’s first and youngest Black Mayor, Age 26
Hometown: Stockton, California


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 graduate came back to his community to make a change instead of going to Wall Street. Tubbs is particularly focused on improving the relationship between the community and the police force.

Twitter: @MichaelDTubbs
Quentin James, Political Strategist, Founder of The Collective PAC
Quentin James, Political Strategist, Founder of The Collective PAC, Age 28
Hometown: Greenville, South Carolina
Current City: Washington, D.C.


Quentin James is the co-founder of Vestige Strategies, LLC – one of the top civic and community engagement consulting firms in the nation. Quentin has created outreach initiatives that recruited over 50,000 African-American donors. A true visionary and proponent of community empowerment, Quentin 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. Quentin is also the co-founder of Inclusv, a diversity hiring initiative that places talented staffers of color into campaigns and advocacy organizations.

Website: http://www.quentintjames.com
Twitter: @QJames
Verlando Brown, Program Coordinator, Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute
Verlando Brown, Program Coordinator, Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute, Age 28
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland


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 to get out of poverty. He became the first in his family to receive a college degree, and now Verlando inspires and assists other first generation college students in Baltimore to make sure they get the support services they need.

Twitter: @BrownVerlando
Samuel Sinyangwe, Co-Founder, Campaign Zero
Samuel Sinyangwe, Co-Founder, Campaign Zero, Age 26
Hometown: Orlando, Florida
Current City: New York City


Samuel Sinyangwe is a policy analyst and data scientist who works with communities of color to fight systemic racism through cutting-edge policies and strategies. He is a co-founder of Campaign Zero, a data-informed platform that 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. Sam has supported activists across the country to collect and use data as a tool for fighting police violence through Mapping Police Violence. He graduated from Stanford University in 2012, where he studied how race and racism impact the U.S. political system.

Website: https://www.joincampaignzero.org
Twitter: @samswey
Richard Love, Teens With a Purpose
Richard Love, Teens With a Purpose, Age 25
Hometown: Norfolk, Virginia


Richard Love is an artist, musician and mentor serving as the creative program manager with Teens With A Purpose (TWP), 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. At a young age, he began leading and addressing social justice issues ranging from poverty to racism through his musical performances. (NBC’s Al Roker is on the Board of Directors of TWP.)

Website: https://www.twp-themovement.org
Twitter: @t3st1two
Khoudia Diop, Model
Khoudia Diop, Model, Age 20
Hometown: Paris, France
Current City: Brooklyn, New York


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. The Brooklyn-based model’s following only continues to grow, but for Khoudia, the real gift of all this attention is the platform she now has to help others.

Instagram: melaniin.goddess
Christen Johnson, President, Student National Medical Association
Christen Johnson, President, Student National Medical Association, Age 25
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio


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.

Twitter: @SNMANatlPrez
Instagram: rhoad2md
Brit Bennett, Novelist
Brit Bennett, Novelist, Age 26
Hometown: Oceanside, California


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” and among those on the TODAY Show’s list of “12 Must Read Books for Fall.” The Mothers looks at the lives of three young people being watched and talked about from afar by church mothers.

Website: http://britbennett.com
Twitter: @britrbennett
Kia LaBeija, Photographer, Dancer and HIV Activist
Kia LaBeija, Photographer, Dancer and HIV Activist, Age 26
Hometown: New York City, New York


Dancer, activist, and visual artist Kia LeBeija is a major presence on NYC's ballroom scene and an outspoken HIV and AIDS activist. This year, “24,” LeBeija’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. Her work explores the intersections of community, politics, fine art, and activism. Kia uses voguing as a performance practice and community based work.

Website: http://goodnight-trafficcity.com
Twitter: @Goodnight_Kia
Yahdon Israel, Writer
Yahdon Israel, Writer, Age 26
Hometown: Brooklyn, New york


Yahdon Israel is a 26-year-old writer from Brooklyn who interweaves cultural criticism, social commentary, and personal narrative to write about race, class, gender, politics, and power in America. He’s been dubbed by some in these circles as the "Chance the Rapper" of the literary (lit) world. Yahdon also runs a book club and a popular Instagram page which promotes literature and fashion with the hashtag #literaryswag. Most importantly: he keeps it lit.

Website: http://www.yahdonisrael.com
Twitter: @yahdonisrael
Derrick Morgan, NFL Player - Tennessee Titans, Tech Entrepreneur
Derrick Morgan, NFL Player - Tennessee Titans, Tech Entrepreneur, Age 27
Hometown: Coatesville, Pennsylvania
Current City: Nashville, Tennessee


Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan didn’t wait for retirement to kick-start his second career in tech. Derrick is a graduate of University of Miami’s Executive MBA program. He is a co-founder of Opportunity Ecosystem, a group that helps a network of angel investors, pro athletes and Black-owned banks to invest in and grow minority-owned, early stage tech companies. His new effort, Huddle Ventures, will officially launch at this year’s SXSW conference.

Twitter: @dmorg91
Simone Manuel, Swimmer, Olympic Gold Medalist
Simone Manuel, Swimmer, Olympic Gold Medalist, Age 20
Hometown: Sugar Land, Texas
Current City: Palo Alto, California


Simone Manuel took home four medals at the 2016 Olympic Games - gold in the 100m free and 400m medley relay and silver in the 50m free and 400m free relay. Her gold in the women's 100m free was history making - it was the first for the U.S. in the event since 1984 and marked the first-ever individual gold medal for an African-American female swimmer. She’s currently a junior at Stanford University.

Twitter: @simone_manuel
Claressa Shields, Professional Boxer, Olympic Gold Medalist
Claressa Shields, Professional Boxer, Olympic Gold Medalist, Age 21
Hometown: Flint, Michigan


Claressa Shields 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. She decided to start boxing after hearing about Laila Ali from her father at age 11.

Twitter: @Claressashields
Von Miller, NFL Player - Denver Broncos
Von Miller, NFL Player - Denver Broncos, Age 27
Hometown: DeSoto, Texas
Current City: Denver, Colorado


Von Miller may be a five-time Pro Bowler, Super Bowl MVP and the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, but he somehow still maintains the persona of a humble athlete. 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.

Website: http://www.vonmiller.org/
Twitter: @Millerlite40