Rekha Mahadevan

2023 - BOSTON

Rekha Mahadevan is a senior at Berwick Academy in South Berwick, Maine, a school located on the border of New Hampshire and Maine. Rekha's work on race relations encompasses her school and her broader community. She has worked hard to bring recognition to neglected gravesites of an African American family from the 1800s in her small, predominantly white hometown in New Hampshire. The moss covered headstones are strewn about on private property. Despite resistance from the current property owner, Rekha has worked diligently to spread awareness through an educational video published by the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire. Rekha also lobbied New Hampshire state legislators to pass a bill requiring that historic African-American gravesites be preserved and marked, and testified at the New Hampshire state capitol at a hearing for this bill. Rekha also teaches her community about the enslavement of children and young people in the Northern states as a tour guide at the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire. Also at the Black Heritage Trail, Rekha has served on two panels, telling her community her experiences as a student of color attending a predominantly white institution for high school. At her school, she spearheaded an effort for students to have a say on the school’s curriculum council in an effort to make students of color and LGBTQ+ students feel more represented in the classroom. Working with a few other passionate students, Rekha created a website for teachers to use as a resource on teaching diverse topics and inclusivity. As vice president of the Seacoast NAACP youth council, Rekha is currently painting a mural to recognize the history of African American and Indigenous people for the 400th anniversary of three local New Hampshire towns: Portsmouth, Dover, and Rye. Since the town had been focusing on celebrating the white, colonial history of the area for this anniversary, Rekha and the members of the NAACP Youth Chapter wanted to make sure the history and contributions of all people are represented. Rekha also is the recipient of this year's Youth Trailblazer Award, given by Black Lives Matter Seacoast.