Speaking to the World
Boston | Chicago | San Diego | Atlanta
Civil & Human Rights Activist and Author of 16 Books
Kevin Powell is one of the most celebrated political, cultural, literary, and hip-hop voices in America. 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 16 books, including Grocery Shopping with My Mother, his new poetry collection; 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 Quincy Jones’ 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 2023, 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, called When We Free The World, about healthy manhood versus toxic manhood, about fathers and sons; and Kevin is the playwright of an upcoming stage play, based around his most recent poetry collection, about what it is to be a man. Kevin is a proud and long-time resident of Brooklyn, New York. Read Less ^
Re-defining Manhood: A Message to Men, to Boys, to Us All
NPR Interview: A Letter from Father to Child
History is a People’s Memory
Hope and Resilience
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 ^
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 ^
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 ^
Civil and Human Rights Activist, Author of 16 books, Former 2-time candidate for Congress, Filmmaker and Tupac Shakur biographer Kevin will speak on the meaning and magic of Juneteenth, how and why it was started, why this celebration ultimately benefits all of America, and how it can help us to understand ourselves, and things like democracy, diversity, equity, and inclusion. And Kevin will lead your company/community in a conversation/question and answer period immediately following his remarks, then sign copies of his newest books.
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 ^
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 ^
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 ^
"Kevin was WONDERFUL! ...His personal story...combined with his reflections on why embracing diversity and equity and serving others with love, was well-received. At least half the room gave him a standing ovation, and leaders from everywhere (Alaska to Florida) were eager to engage and exchange with him following the event…Several of the NSBA board members stated that they enjoyed him and that more people need to hear him...As I said, I think his message about peace, diversity, tolerance, and providing kids with opportunities was right on the mark."
"I felt like Kevin was just like us. He was so open and nonjudgmental. I was very moved. Kevin was an excellent speaker and inspiring. His ability to show the importance of voting and civic engagement was incredible. Kevin’s talk was one that I wish all of our students could have heard. I would strongly recommend him to other colleges and organizations."
"Last night was truly a smashing success. Our students’ schedules are busy with group projects and other things that often force them to leave events before they are over. Nearly every single student stayed at your talk until the very end—a testament to the power of what you said and how you said it. Thank you for paying such close attention to the students’ words, poems, questions, even their names. Thank you for reading my and Amir’s notes so carefully. Thanks for wowing our president, our faculty/staff/and student body. Thank you!"
"He was EXCELLENT-- we really enjoyed him. About 150 folks showed to see him-- he was engaging, focused, informative and wonderful with my kids-- even stayed late to take additional questions from individuals who wanted one-on-one time."
"I just wanted to send you a note to tell you that Kevin Powell was a phenomenal speaker! He was powerful and motivating. I believe that students, faculty and staff will be talking about him for years to come. In several programs this week he has been quoted, from vice presidents to first year students. Thank you!"
"I am truly impressed with him and his transformation over the years. His humble spirit and true sense of both self and purpose are inspiring, and I thank him for taking the time to share just a little part of him and his heart with Capital One."
"I wanted to just let you know how much we all appreciated Kevin’s speech at our Unity through Diversity Conference last week. His speech was enlightening, inspiring, and contemporary. The mere fact that you could hear a pin drop during his speech in a room filled with 600 teenagers is a testament to his ability to captivate a young audience. Thanks for contributing to a wonderful day that will hopefully stay in the minds and hearts of all those in attendance."
"I want to thank Mr. Powell so much for his presence among us on yesterday, and for the powerful presentation that he delivered to our students. Our students (and I refer specifically to students of color) needed to hear every word that he said, and those words couldn't have come from a more compelling and credible person. I greatly admire and respect him and the work he does. I hope that I can convince him to do a residency here sometime. Our young men need him. We need him. Mr. Powell was a gift to us. I've given my life's blood to these students who often live in a state of perpetual culture shock. I'm here because they are here, but sometimes it takes a man to speak to men, and a person who is much closer in age to them. They heard him last night. Bless Mr. Powell and the work he does."
"The program was great. We were very happy with the way he engaged the students in the afternoon program. I was also pleased with the turnout for our evening program. There was a wide range of ages and ethnicities and some very good questions. Our assistant director, Joann Mondowney, said that he did exactly what we wanted, bringing the theme of the month together and adding a scholarly aspect to it."
"Outstanding!! He was awesome!! Great reviews from the students. The crowd was very diverse and comments were the same from all that heard him. The book signing was good as well—numerous students attended and bought books."
"I am very pleased with the way everything went last night and want to thank you Kevin Powell for a stimulating evening. Our students were very engaged and energized by his speech. He was very gracious to meet personally with our students and to treat them with such respect."
"THANK YOU so much for being our keynote speaker as I know it was such a last minute request at a very busy time for you. Your words were powerful, inspiring, and gave the audience hope for the future at a time when folks have needed it the most. Your humble spirit and ability to speak about concrete and holistic steps for the future were truly wonderful. Thanks for doing good in the world!"
"We couldn't thank you enough for speaking Saturday! You have done us an incredible service, especially on such short notice. On behalf of our executive board, we will forever be grateful. Students are still talking about your speech and how excited they are to begin reading your autobiography. We really appreciated having you, and hope that we can do something again in the future!"
Grocery Shopping with My Mother
When We Free The World (Essays)
The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy's Journey into Manhood (Autobiography)
No Sleep Till Brooklyn: New and Selected Poems (Poetry)
The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life (Self-Help)
Who Shot Ya?: Three Decades of HipHop Photography (Photojournalism)
"A Letter From Father to Child”…The New York Times
"Between Russell Simmons and The World and Oprah”…Utne Reader
"To be young, gifted and Chadwick Boseman”…CNN.com
“The Power of Touch: I was hugged for the first time at 18. It meant confronting my deepest fears”…The Guardian
"To John Lewis, with love”…The Guardian
"The Power of Stacey Abrams”…The Washington Post Magazine
"A letter to my 9-year-old friend during the coronavirus pandemic”…ABC News/“Good Morning America”
Email Your List
You’ve reached your maximum number of speakers for this list.
Email Your List