In the first of a three-part video series by TIME and ESSENCE, TIME reporter Maya Rhodan sat down with President Obama and principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland, to discuss the impact of social activism and movements like Black Lives Matter and Black Girl Magic.

Created by CaShawn Thompson to celebrate the beauty and power of Black women, Black Girl Magic has become more than a hashtag since it was conceived two years ago, it has become a rallying cry for black women who want to be seen and heard.

“I think it couldn’t be more positive for a young Black girl to see that it’s okay to be yourself, it’s okay to not have to transform and look like what you may see on the cover of a lot of  magazines. That you are beautiful, that it’s possible to succeed in any field that you want to, looking the way that you do. With your hair the way it is,” said Copeland.

Black Girl Magic is just one of many social movements that have sprang up in response to the anti-Black rhetoric that permeates American society since the Black Lives Matter movement began in 2012. The accessible nature of social media has given Black activists a way to spread information, create representation, and make change.

“Social media is obviously the way in which young people are receiving information generally, so the power of young activists to help shape culture and politics through things like Black Lives Matter, I think, is hugely important,” said President Obama. “When I think about the journey I’ve traveled, there’s no doubt that young African American, Latino, Asian, LGBT youth, they have more role models, they have more folks that they can immediately identify with and that in and of it’s self is of value.”

Social media has created a space for black people to discuss things that have gone ignored for too long with groups of like-minded people who are ready for change. Social media has given people, young and old, the opportunity to make their voices heard.

Click here to watch Copeland and Obama discuss body image and race. Also visit for their coverage of this story.

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