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2021 40 Under 40: Imari Stout

Founder, Black Lives Matter Southwest Missouri

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In the midst of a health pandemic, and as the country watched the response to George Floyd’s death in May 2020, Imari Stout coped with her own personal loss. She responded with action and founded a local chapter of the Black Lives Matter organization.

The group rapidly grew to 6,300 members and gathered 3,000 people in June for what the city estimates was the largest peaceful march in the area’s history.

Stout, 28, has committed herself to utilizing her leadership in an attempt to create change and amplify the voices of community members most affected by systemic oppression.

“We continue to prove that change is possible, and I only hope the future continues to reflect that narrative in greater ways,” she says.

Stout also founded the Black Arts Alliance and serves on the board of directors for the Artists Empowerment Collective, a venture of the Springfield Regional Arts Council.

First job? Barista. In the highest-volume Starbucks stores in The Valley.

Proudest moment? The June 6, 2020 BLM March! Three-thousand strong across Martin Luther King Jr. bridge.

Theme song? “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” by Gil Scott-Heron.

Best celebrity meeting/sighting? I had a meet-cute with Jonathan Taylor Thomas at the coffee shop I worked at in L.A.

Recent TV show binge? “Time: The Kalief Browder Story” on Netflix.

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