Kevin Powell is one of the most acclaimed political, cultural, literary, and hip-hop voices in America today. Kevin was born and raised by a single mother in Jersey City, New Jersey and is a long-time resident of Brooklyn, New York. He is the author of 11 books, including Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and the Ghost of Dr. King: Blogs and Essays. Among his upcoming books will be Kevin’s memoir of his very difficult childhood and youth, to be released in 2015 by Simon & Schuster; and in 2016 he will publish a biography of Tupac Shakur, the late rapper and controversial American icon. Kevin's writings have also appeared in CNN.com, Esquire, Ebony, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, The Daily Kos, Newsweek, ESPN.com, and Vibe Magazine, where he worked for many years as a senior writer, interviewing public figures as different as Tupac Shakur and General Colin Powell. Kevin also routinely appears in interviews on television, radio, and in print and on the internet discussing major issues of our time.
As an activist Kevin is the president and co-founder of BK Nation, a new national organization—progressive and multicultural, and focused on matters like education, civic engagement and leadership training, health and wellness, social media, and job and small business creation. Kevin was also a Democratic candidate for Congress in Brooklyn, New York, his adopted hometown, in 2008 and 2010. He has been an activist for over twenty years, dating back to his days as a teenager at Rutgers University. Kevin was a participant in the student-led anti-apartheid movement, the drive to end racism in South Africa. He has been at the forefront of police brutality and racial bias cases and has worked for years around voting rights.
A gifted and sought after public speaker, Kevin routinely travels America and globally as a public speaker, lecturing on multiculturalism, building corporate responsibility, American and Black American history, the life of Dr. King, civil rights, American politics and civic engagement, sexism from a male perspective, leadership, social activism, the state of hip-hop, redefining American manhood, and being Black and male in America, among other topics, at colleges and universities, corporations, community centers, prisons, religious institutions, conferences, festivals and various institutions, and in a wide range of diverse communities. His most recent speaking engagements include stops at Microsoft headquarters, Stanford University, the U.S. Department of Justice, the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the "March on Washington," a one-week residency at the American University in Nigeria, visiting lecture positions at Central State University and Virginia State University, and a Hip-hop Scholar-in-Residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; and, on behalf of the U.S. State Department, a national tour of Japan on the relevance of Dr. King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech in the 21st century. Kevin also visited Wales in the United Kingdom to do a series of lectures and workshops on the 100th birthday of 20th century poet Dylan Thomas, and the connections between Welsh and American poetry and spoken-word traditions. Kevin produced a 10-city State of Black Men Tour, numerous Black male think tank sessions, and Black and Male in America, a 3-Day national conference. He spent his youth reading poetry at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Indeed, as a pop culture curator Kevin produced the very first exhibit on the history of hip-hop in America, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, which also toured America and overseas.
A fixture on the pop culture landscape the past several years, Kevin was a cast member on the first season of MTV’s “The Real World”; has hosted and produced programming for HBO and BET; written a screenplay; hosted and wrote an award-winning MTV documentary about post-riot Los Angeles (“Straight From The ‘Hood”).
As a humanitarian, Kevin's work includes local, national, and international efforts in the movement to end violence against women and girls (including a very well-regarded appearance on "The Oprah Show" highlighting domestic violence). He has produced an annual holiday party and clothing drive for the homeless every December in New York City since 9/11. Kevin was a central figure in Gulf Coast disaster relief efforts, facilitating the delivery of goods and services to the affected regions, and being a cofounder of “Katrina on the Ground,” an initiative that sent over 700 college students to work in the devastated region. His philanthropic and relief work includes relief to earthquake victims in Japan and Haiti, where he helped ship thousands of pounds of supplies to the Caribbean nation, as well as aid to victims of Superstorm Sandy in New York.
As an acknowledgement of Kevin's life of public service and his dedication to literature and the arts, Cornell University recently became the owner of The Kevin Powell Collection, documenting nearly 30 years of his work to date in print, photos, videos, books, handwritten notes and speeches, and select memorabilia.
Of his life work Kevin Powell says, simply, "My life-calling is to be a servant for the people, period. Money, fame, status, personal achievements, and all that means very little to me when pain and suffering are still real on this planet. I am interested in the powerless becoming powerful.”
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