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Kevin  Powell

Kevin Powell

Civil & Human Rights Activist and Author of 14 Books

Biography

Kevin Powell is one of the most celebrated political, cultural, literary, and hip-hop voices in America today. The Jersey City product of a single mother, absent father, horrific poverty, and violence, he was able to study at Rutgers University in his home state of New Jersey due to the Educational Opportunity Fund, a program created during the Civil Rights Movement to benefit poor youth. Read More >

Says Kevin, “Just to be able to get to college, to be exposed to a new world, a new way, changed my life forever, and I am forever grateful for the chance.” Kevin has gone on to be a poet and journalist and the author of 14 books, including When We Free The World, his new short essay collection about freedom, justice, and equality in America; and his critically acclaimed autobiography, The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey into Manhood, which is being adapted for the screen. One of his upcoming books will be a biography of Tupac Shakur, who Kevin interviewed several times while a senior writer for Vibe.

Indeed, he has penned articles, essays, and blogs for a wide range of newspapers and magazines and major websites, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, The Nation, NPR, ESPN, Essence, Ebony, Rolling Stone, Esquire, HuffPost, Utne Reader, The Guardian, The Baffler, The Progressive, Complex, and British GQ. As a civil and human rights activist, Kevin will launch a new American organization in 2020, yet to be named, focused on voter education and voter empowerment, and bringing people together, and which will showcase a website full of blogs from contributors of diverse backgrounds.

Kevin’s activism also includes an annual clothing drive for homeless youth in New York City; a leadership role in the movement to re-define manhood away from sexism and violence; a deep responsibility to mentorship and development of people of every age as agents for change; and a commitment to democracy, justice, diversity, inclusion, and equality for the American people, be it education, #MeToo, immigrant rights, gun violence prevention, marriage equality, economic opportunity, healthcare access, or an end to racial profiling.

To further demonstrate that commitment to a life of service Kevin ran for Congress in his adopted hometown of New York City in 2008 and 2010; he has lectured and worked and traveled in all 50 American states and 5 of the world’s 7 continents; he is directing, writing, and producing his first documentary film, What’s Going On, about healthy manhood versus toxic manhood, about fathers and sons; and Kevin is the playwright of an upcoming stage play, based around his poetry and conversations about what it is to be a man. Kevin is a proud and long-time resident of Brooklyn, New York. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

The Education of Powell

Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement

Education Challenges Today

On Power

Failed Opportunities

Dr. King and Understanding History

Speech Topics

When We Free the World: Making the Case for Love, Real Diversity & Inclusion, and A New Kind of Leadership

In a world where violence, fear, division, and hate are the norm, Kevin offers hope and a different way to view ourselves, to view each other. Inspired by his 14th and newest book of the same title, WHEN WE FREE THE WORLD is as an interactive townhall meeting where we confront what is in front of us, including our history and our times and ourselves, in a way that moves us forward, toward healing, toward action, for the good of us all.  Read More >

READ Kevin’s New York Times excerpt “A Letter From Father to Child”: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/18/parenting/talk-to-kids-racism.html Read Less ^

What is a Man?: A Message to Men, to Boys, to Us All

In this brutally honest and provocative talk Kevin plainly offers his own life story to show how we can transform our given definitions of manhood. He breaks down healthy manhood versus toxic manhood, discusses the impact of women on his life, and he challenges homophobia, transphobia, and violence in all forms. Kevin also probes pop culture, hip-hop, sports, film, television, family structures, and even what we were taught and not taught in our educations about manhood, about humanity. Read More >

READ Kevin’s Ms. Magazine excerpt "Between Russell Simmons and The World and Oprah”: https://msmagazine.com/2020/06/26/between-russell-simmons-and-the-world-and-oprah/ Read Less ^

Looking for Martin: Why Dr. King & His “Dream” Still Matter

As we celebrate the Dr. King annual national holiday, and given all happening in America with Black Lives Matter, #Metoo, and so much more, Kevin takes us back to Dr. King’s life and times, how he became the leader he was, what the Civil Rights Movement was truly about and who made it happen, and how the lessons of the past can be learned and re-learned in new ways in this 21st century. Read More >

READ Kevin’s CNN article on Dr. King: https://www.cnn.com/2016/01/15/living/martin-luther-king-dream-feat/index.html Read Less ^

History is a People’s Memory: Celebrating Ourselves, Celebrating Diversity

Inspired by a famous Malcolm X quote, this talk looks at American history through the lens of the Black experience and Black contributions to every part of our society, with Kevin looping in his own journey from un-woke to woke, from a very limited knowledge of our nation, of himself, to one that includes all people, all identities. Read More >

Kevin’s article on John Lewis in The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jul/18/to-john-lewis-with-love-kevin-powell-civil-rights-leader Read Less ^

Know. Vote. Organize: The Leadership We are Waiting for is Us

Whether it is a presidential election year or not, Kevin discusses the importance of knowing history, current events, voting in every single election, voter education, and why all leadership is ultimately local, no matter who we are, no matter where we are. Drawing upon his 30 plus years as a leader, as an activist, Kevin also shares what he has learned about leadership, be it from his two runs for Congress, to his 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina relief work, to his efforts on the ground around the COVID pandemic as both an activist and journalist, to his years of work serving the homeless and poor, to how he now uses technology and social media to help others. Read More >

READ Kevin Powell’s Washington Post Magazine cover story on Stacey Abrams: https://www.washingtonpost.com/magazine/2020/05/14/stacey-abrams-political-power/?arc404=true Read Less ^

Hope Wanted: Surviving & Healing During This Global Pandemic

A very necessary and very honest talk about this global pandemic, about COVID, and how it has impacted our lives now, and likely forever. This is a healing session, emotionally, spiritually, as Kevin talks about people he has lost to this virus, why he decided to travel all of New York when it was the epicenter for COVID, and what we can learn about ourselves, and do differently as we move through these very uncertain times. Read More >

READ Kevin’s Utne Reader article about COVID and his beloved New York City: https://www.utne.com/community/new-yorkers-on-covid-19-zm0z2005zhoe Read Less ^