Once Targeted, Student Spreads Message of Acceptance Through Books, Presentations and Podcasts
Photos courtesy of Devin Moore
When Devin Moore was in eighth grade, three classmates cornered them not only in the classroom but online with racist bullying. The Long Island native responded in an unlikely way: by founding at age 14 an anti-bullying organization, Race to Speak Up, with help from their mom. Its name references both the urgency with which bullying must be addressed, as well as the racial divisions and underlying unity of the human race.
“What really inspired me was knowing that other people were going through the same pain that I went through,” Moore said. “I really wanted to be a part of that positive change that effectively puts an end to this bullying.”
Six years later, Moore is a sophomore psychology major at the University of Maryland, where they’re spreading Race to Speak Up’s message of anti-bullying in various forms, from their children’s book to interactive workshops to podcasts.
Nearly half of teenagers in the United States have been bullied online, according to the Pew Research Center. Students who are bullied have a higher risk of developing depression and anxiety, and students of color are more likely to experience bullying than white students, according to the Center for Antiracist Research.
Moore began hosting interactive “Race to Speak Up Against Bullying” workshops for local elementary and middle schools while they were in high school, talking to students about bullying prevention and how they can support one another. During these workshops, Moore encourages others to be “upstanders” rather than bystanders, stressing the importance of supporting victims and ways to prevent or stop bullying when they see it.
In October 2022 Moore’s book, “Devin Speaks Up,” was published by Share a Smile Books for National Bullying Prevention Month. The children's book aims to help younger children identify bullying. It tells the story of Devin, a middle schooler being tormented by three bullies who tell Devin that his skin color is “awful.” Devin, distraught after these attacks, goes to his parents who help by reaching out to teachers at the school to intervene. The book not only encourages children to go to their parents if they are bullied, but to intervene when they see other students being picked on and be upstanders for each other.
“I really wanted to give students a tool or a guide, a book that allows for them to understand what bullying can look like,” Moore said.
At Maryland, Moore promotes anti-bullying several times a month as an ambassador for Humanity Rising, a national student-led initiative that aims to amplify young people’s voices and inspire social change. At a Humanity Rising event at a Chicago high school, Moore distributed over 300 books to students after giving a talk about bullying and the importance of self-confidence.
Moore’s workshops have expanded beyond schools, from speaking at corporate events about workplace bullying to hosting a three-hour “Race to Speak Up Against Bullying” lecture at the National Center for Race Amity Conference in Atlanta last fall.
“People love hearing their story and how [Moore] really took this painful experience and turned it into purpose,” said Debbie Ferruzzi, founder and CEO of Humanity Rising.
Moore also launched two podcasts in 2021 in conjunction with Humanity Rising. They’ve interviewed youth and adult anti-bullying activists, entrepreneurs and business leaders around the country on their “Race to Speak Up Podcast,” while on “Behind the Screen - The Harms of Cyberbullying,” they discuss cyberbullying with Dr. Sundeep Randhawa, a psychiatrist who specializes in child and adolescent bullying. Their most moving conversation with a guest, they said, was with Shant’a Miller White, founder of Parents Against Bullying VA and therapist Arlette Simmons.
Across all these platforms, acceptance remains central to Moore’s message.
“If we embrace everyone, if we try our hardest to understand, and at the bare minimum, accept everyone, there will be a lot less hate, division and chaos,” Moore said. “It will effectively create a more beautiful, diverse, comfortable and safe world.”
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