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She was 11 when she started as an activist. Now she's 19 and running for office.by Fernando Hurtado
The Big Story#MLKday

WATCH | This civil rights leader (though she prefers to be called community advocate) has been doing it since she was 11 years old.

Mary-Pat Hector may just be 19-years-old, but she's also the national youth director of the National Action Network, Rev. Al Sharpton's civil rights organization.

She's been serving in that position since she was 14 years old.

She's also a sophomore at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia.

She's been working in civil rights as a civil rights leader (she'll tell you to call her a "community advocate" because the former is too divisive) since she was 11.  (Photo: Mary-Pat Hector)

Her start

"I was 11 years old, and there was a lot of violence going on in the community. I was losing a lot of friends," she told Circa. "And it was a point in my life where I said, 'Where are the adults at?'"

So she did what any 11-year-old would do: Call Al Sharpton's radio show, Keepin' It Real with Rev. Al Sharpton. And he picked up.


As expected, Hector was invited to the White House in February 2016, along with other millennial civil rights leaders, to meet with President Obama, because why not? (Photo: Mary-Pat Hector)

Her conversation with Sharpton

"I got through the lines, and I was talking to him," said Hector. "I'm like, 'You know, Rev. Sharpton, violence is happening in our community. You say you're a person who keeps it real, and you do so much in the black community. What are you going to do in Stone Mountain, Georgia?'"

And within a month, Sharpton showed up and did a National Day of Outrage. This was the day after her 12th birthday. When she was 14, she became national youth director for the organization.

Preparing for the march

We met up with Hector on her two-day trip to Washington, D.C. She was in town for 36 hours for Sharpton's "We Shall Not Be Moved March," an event the National Action Network had been preparing for for months.

She attended the march the following day and then hopped on a plane back to Atlanta where she would be honored at Bernice King's, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, daughter, gala.

No big deal.

Mary-Pat Hector (second from the left) on the frontlines of the "We Shall Not Be Moved March" held on Jan. 14 in Washington, D.C. More than 2,000 people attended.

A message for President-elect Trump

Hector says she wasn't thrilled about Donald Trump winning the presidential election, but after doing some thinking, she decided she'd give Trump a chance.

"During Pres. Obama's farewell speech, he mentioned, you know, if you don't like what's happening politically, take a clipboard, get as many signatures as you can, and run for office."

So what is she going to do?

Running for office

"Currently, I am running for city council in my county," admitted Hector. "So hopefully by [the time I graduate], I'll be a city councilwoman, even though I'm still in school."