In the spirit of Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, and Piri Thomas’s Down These Mean Streets, this powerful memoir by writer and activist Kevin Powell vividly recounts the horrific poverty of his youth, his struggles to overcome a legacy of anger, violence, and self-hatred, and his journey to be a man and a voice for others.
Driven by his single mother’s dreams for his survival and success, Powell became the first in his family to attend a university, where he became a student leader keenly aware of widespread social injustice. But the struggle to define himself and break out of poverty continued into adulthood, with traumatic periods of homelessness and despair. As a young star journalist with Vibe magazine, Powell interviewed luminaries such as Tupac Shakur, writing influential chronicles of the evolution of hiphop from his eyewitness view. Now, with searing honesty, Powell examines his troubled relationships, his appearance on MTV’s first season of “The Real World,” his battles with alcohol and depression, his two campaigns for Congress, and the uplifting trip to Africa that renewed his sense of personal mission. Finally, Powell embarks on a search for the father he never really knew in a redemptive passage from abandonment to self-discovery.
A striking memoir by a child of post-Civil Rights America, The Education of Kevin Powell gives eloquent testimony to the power of the soul to heal.
“The Education of Kevin Powell is a raw, deeply painful accounting of a life born of poverty, racism, abandonment, abuse, and complicated love. It is a memoir as much about a mother as it is about her son, a memoir born out of stunning writing and surprising vulnerability. A memoir of rage and insight, heartbreak and hunger. Powerful, brave, and unforgettable.”
“Poignant and powerful. This story of Black male life in our patriarchal culture, from boyhood to manhood, is raw and passionate. It offers a true and honest portrait of all that Black males endure to survive and, more importantly, to cope with trauma, and to heal and thrive. It should be read by everyone who claims to care about the fate of Black males in America."
Listen to Kevin Powell's celebrated January 2008 speech on Martin Luther King Day. The speech is both a celebration of America's journey since the Civil Rights era, and a call for a progressive, multicultural coalition that is inclusive and loving of all Americans, all people, regardless of race, gender, class, religion, sexual orientation, ability/disability, or political ideology.