Kevin Powell

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Biography

Kevin Powell is one of the most acclaimed 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 created during the Civil Rights Movement. 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 writer who 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, NPR, ESPN, Essence, Ebony, Rolling Stone, Esquire, HuffPost, and Vibe, where he was a senior writer and founding staff member. In the past year Kevin has written British GQ cover stories on Black Panther movie co-stars Michael B. Jordan (March 2018) and Chadwick Boseman (October 2018), and currently hosts an Apple Podcast called “One on One with Kevin Powell.” Kevin is the author of 13 books, including 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 many times while working for Vibe.

As an activist, Kevin is also a cofounder of BK Nation, a new American organization and website focused on civil and human rights and equal opportunity for all people. And he ran for Congress in New York City in 2008 and 2010. In terms of content creation, Kevin is one of the producers of "SHE, a Choreoplay," a major theater production about ending violence against women and girls, and healing and empowerment, created by his wife Jinah Parker, the dancer, choreographer, and playwright. SHE will make its Off-Broadway debut in the Spring of 2020. Kevin and his wife are proud and long-time residents of Brooklyn, New York.

SPEECHES OFFERED

“STAY WOKE: DIVERSITY, LEADERSHIP, DONALD TRUMP, AND THE FUTURE OF AMERICA”

In a world where violence, fear, division, and hate have become the norm, Kevin Powell offers hope and a new and different way to view ourselves, to view each other. Beginning with his personal story of moving from ignorance to being woke, Kevin talks candidly about the importance of each of us knowing who we are, where we come from, of being connected to our personal histories, and the histories of this world in which we live. Using everything from pop culture to politics to sports Kevin also sheds light on how we are educated or mis-educated, how we can teach or unteach ourselves in a way that not only empowers us as individuals, but helps us to understand how and why we are different, and also how and why we are the same. Be it racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, Islamaphobia, homophobia, transphobia, classism, able-ism, age-ism, anti-immigrant attitudes, or anything else that hurts and separates people, Kevin confronts those systems, those belief systems, in a way that is rooted in healing, and freedom and understanding for us all.

“RE-DEFINING MANHOOD: A MESSAGE TO MEN, TO BOYS, TO US ALL”

In this brutally honest and provocative talk, Kevin Powell offers his own life journey to illustrate how we can transform our concepts of manhood. Raised by a single mother in the inner city, Kevin’s rites of passage were typical of many heterosexual males: sports, violence, and viewing women and girls as mother figures or sexual objects, and nothing more. This view of women and girls exploded when, in his early 20s, he pushed a girlfriend into a bathroom door during an argument. Decades later, thanks to years of therapy, study, healing, and a commitment to growth and change, Kevin has become a solution-oriented writer, activist and speaker seeking to re-define manhood around nonviolence, peace, love, healthy self-expression, and as an ally to women and people of all gender identities.

HOW MY SINGLE MOTHER AND EDUCATION SAVED MY LIFE: A CONVERSATION WITH KEVIN POWELL”

This interactive conversation between Kevin and the audience is about education, about what and how we learn, about honoring those who made it possible for us to be who we are. Kevin’s mother only got an eighth grade education herself, but he maintains that she was the first teacher and first leader she ever met. And what Kevin’s mother gave him very early was a passion for learning, and his first trip to the library, both of which would lead years later to his becoming an author of many books and a prolific journalist and public speaker. But it was never easy, and Kevin talks very honestly about his life, the poverty, the violence, the abuse, the low self-esteem, the depression, and how time and again it was a willingness to learn new things that led him back to a path of growth, self-empowerment, and healing.