Best Selling Author & Community Activist
Michael Patrick MacDonald is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, All Souls: A Family Story From Southie and Easter Rising: A Memoir of Roots and Rebellion. He has given over 300 campus lectures as his works are frequent “First Year Experience” selections at colleges and universities throughout the country. He has been awarded an American Book Award, A New England Literary Lights Award, and a fellowship at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Study Center. Read More >
The Charlie Rose Interview
Son of Southie Watching Bulger Trial
The Importance and Impact of a Memoir
Coming from a family and community that suffered from gun violence, Michael Patrick MacDonald recognized that those most affected by gun violence are also those who would be the key to solving the problem. Operating under this belief, he worked to recruit survivors across the racial divide in Boston’s most impacted communities. The result was Boston’s successful Gun Buyback program—which offered cash and vouchers to people who turned in their guns, no questions asked—of which MacDonald is founder and lead organizer. Through four annual Gun Buybacks, the program collected and destroyed over 2,900 working firearms and promoted a diverse citywide grassroots movement led by youth and survivors of gun violence. Following the Gun Buybacks, Boston experienced two years without one single juvenile homicide and a nationally recognized anti-violence movement was born.
In this program, speaker Michael Patrick MacDonald tells audiences about the factors that made the program such a success, sharing both the high-risk stories behind the hotline calls and the unprecedented history of the grassroots movement itself. The Gun Buyback’s effectiveness—due in large part to Boston’s populations coming together across boundaries of race and neighborhood balkanization—is a lesson in how a united voice for peace on the streets can make a profound and measurable difference in a community.
Michael Patrick MacDonald is the author of two best-selling coming-of-age memoirs: All Souls: A Family Story from Southie and Easter Rising: A Memoir of Roots and Rebellion. Both deal with the issues he experienced growing up in South Boston’s Old Colony Housing Project, an area found to have the highest concentration of white poverty in America and some of Boston’s highest death rates from substance abuse and its attendant violence (including suicide). Having lost four siblings to poverty, violence, and the drug trade, MacDonald has used his personal story to promote a conversation about trauma in the lives of young people and about the possibility for individual healing and community-wide change. Read More >
Before becoming a full-time writer, MacDonald worked as a community organizer, helping to build coalitions to reduce substance abuse and street violence by promoting leadership from among those most impacted by the drug trade. “Finding Your Voice” uses stories from his own teen years to illustrate the impact of poverty and trauma (specifically violence and drug abuse) on young people and the transformative power of empathy and listening among service providers and therapists. This lecture strives to help youth workers and service providers: Read Less ^
In this workshop, Michael Patrick MacDonald provides specific answers to the following question: how do we allow our young people the space to find their voice—first, to find their voice to tell their story at their own pace, completely owning every step they take in that process, and then to find their voice in the world? Speaker Michael Patrick MacDonald says we must begin by listening, something he does with his Circle Process. Circle Process (literally “sitting in a circle”) creates a space without hierarchy where we all feel listened to and where we lose separation, gain empathy for the other, and find company in our stories. It’s all about constructing our narratives, owning our narratives, and finding ways to connect with others through our stories and theirs. From MacDonald’s own experience and his observation of young people healing from past trauma, this has proven to be a powerful way forward in the aftermath of trauma. Read More >
The Circle Process workshop will take place “in circle,” allowing participants to experience the actual mechanisms of the process. Participants will learn to: Read Less ^
"The conference was great and Michael Patrick MacDonald was FABULOUS!!! His message hit home with many participants. Michael was professional, passionate and motivational. Some feedback included: ‘Wow, unbelievable story – way to use it to change lives’; ‘A different and true perspective – right from the source of poverty and pain, thank you’; ‘Incredible story!!!"
"Michael Patrick MacDonald gave a powerful speech that enthralled our audience. He’s a compelling storyteller not only on the page, but also in person. Michael Patrick MacDonald takes something as simple as loss and mourning to help bridge racial divides and help others find their voice. His powerful speech resonated across the room in equal parts pain and hope. His is a story all should hear."
"MacDonald’s gift is that he guides us with vision, insight, humor and the clear, chiseled word. His is a rare sleight of hand. But beyond his ability to bring the streets to the printed page, MacDonald breathes added life into those words, assisting others – especially those who come from poverty and trauma – to discover their voices."
"All Souls was for us a fascinating memoir! TechBoston Academy students loved reading a book by someone with a life that was not so different from our own. And having the author in our school created a buzz all through the hallways. To know that the person who lived through such a childhood is alive, well, and giving back is an inspiration to me and my classmates."
"Michael MacDonald's opening day presentation to Fenway High's student body opened our hearts, nourished our souls, and brought clarity to our minds. His message regarding family dynamics, neighborhood politics, and the negative impact of poverty crosses boundaries of race and ethnicity and is as relevant today as when he wrote All Souls."
"Students have an incredible connection to the characters in Michael Patrick MacDonald's ALL SOULS and with the author himself. They go through the emotions with this Southie family, as if they were right there with them. ALL SOULS is an educational tool unlike any other. It truly brings local history alive. Get this author to your school!"
"Speaker and teacher Michael Patrick MacDonald engages audiences, no matter their makeup--all ages, experiences and perspectives leave with a sense of having made a personal connection with this wonderful writer. He delivers uncommon insights; he poses questions that keep audiences thinking, re-evaluating their own ideas long after the event has passed. MacDonald is an asset for any program that prides itself on promoting thoughtful dialogue or connecting audiences to writers and Ideas that matter."
"Michael has spoken at two large engagements and one intimate gathering for me. His style is compelling, his knowledge of all things related to Social Justice extensive, and his sharing of his personal history fascinating. His compassion for others is palpable. Anyone or any organization looking for an intelligent and thoughtful speaker should get in touch with Michael."