Famous Friday: Karson Baldwin

My awesome co-president was so sweet to use last week’s Famous Friday post to write about me! Well, guess what? It’s my turn to write the blog and I bet you can guess who I’ve decided to write about!

Three years ago, I joined Project RACE’s youth leadership team of high achieving, hard working teens who were passionate about multiracial advocacy. The youngest and the one with the longest history with Project RACE was Karson Baldwin! Karson was only 13 then, but he’d been working with Project RACE for as long as he could remember.

“Yes, I have worked with Project RACE for a long time,” Karson told me. “I look back at old videos and listen to interviews and laugh at how young and small I was.” (check out this 2009 Project RACE Teen video PSA on equality in healthcare for multiracial Americans and you’ll see exactly what he means! So cute!  https://youtu.be/Ila0AsDpyf8 )

Karson had the good fortune of growing up in a house full of social justice advocates. When he was just four years old, his oldest sister became Project RACE Teen President. When that sister went off to college, his other sister succeeded her as president. A couple years later, when his second sister followed the first to Harvard, our Executive Director Susan Graham, spoke to Karson about the possibility of taking the PR Teen torch. But rather than step in to the role of PRT president, Karson had an idea of his own. He told Susan that he would like to launch a new division of the organization, Project RACE Kids!

“Susan loved the idea,” Karson said, “not only because multiracial people are the fastest growing racial group, but also because multiracial people are the youngest racial group. All these younger multiracial people needed a safe place for their voice to be heard. I was fortunate to grow up in an amazing family with a supportive community, but not everyone has that.”

So at 13 Karson founded Project RACE Kids for multiracial youth ages 8 to 12! He established the “PRK Kids Krew” made up of a dozen young difference makers from across the U.S. to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences with the multiracial population and beyond. He held minority focused bone marrow drives, helped launch Multiracial Heritage Week, gave media interviews and so much more! Karson has done an awesome job with PRKids, so I was really happy when he stepped up this year to join me as Project RACE Teens Co-President!

“I intend to work with Project RACE for a long time because our work is important to me, to our country, and even the world,” Karson told me. “There are many nice organizations that focus on celebrating the growing multiracial community, and that’s cool, but none are committed to advocacy like Project RACE has been for all these years. ”

Karson’s long history of work with Project RACE is impressive, but it’s even more impressive when you understand that he fits that in with so many other meaningful pursuits. In addition to being a straight A student at the top all-boys school in his state and a two sport high school athlete, Karson is leading in a huge variety of areas. He helps lead singing at his church every Sunday, he was student body president of his school, he was selected to represent his school at the Student Diversity Leadership Conference and at the leadership meetings of the Cleveland Council of Independent Schools, just to name a few.

He has many passions. But along with multiracial advocacy, school and sports, he is passionate about service to the materially poor. He serves on the HOPE worldwide National Youth Advisory Council and designs and regularly leads youth service efforts in his community. He is currently working on an exciting partnership with a one-of-a-kind public school for kids that have been in the United States for two years or less. The 900 member student body at this school is from 47 different countries and they speak 28 different languages!

“It’s an amazing place, the only one of it’s kind,” Karson says. “A lot of the kids are refugees and who knows what they’ve been through to get here. I am really excited about the projects we’re working on and the relationships we’re building to help them feel at home here. Like at Project RACE, my work at the International Newcomers Academy is all about acknowledging each individual’s identity and fostering mutual respect among diverse groups of people.”

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that this guy is just 16.

Photo Credit: Baldwin Family