January 20, 2011
. – Activist, author of 10 books and public speaker Kevin Powell will deliver the keynote address at the annual Florida A&M University (FAMU) Black History Convocation, Thursday, February 17, 2011, at Jake Gaither Gymnasium from 10:10 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. All classes will be suspended.
Powell is widely considered one of America’s most important voices in these early years of the 21st century. A product of extreme poverty, welfare, fatherlessness and a single mother-led household, he is a native of Jersey City, New Jersey and was educated at New Jersey’s Rutgers University. Kevin is a longtime resident of Brooklyn, New York, where he was also a Democratic candidate for Congress.
Powell has published 10 books, including his new title, Open Letters to America. This book is a collection of essays that examines American leadership, politics and various social issues in the era of President Barack Obama. Next up for Powell is his long-awaited memoir of childhood and youth, “the boy with a mother and no father.”
Powell has written numerous essays, articles, and reviews through the years for publications such as Esquire, Newsweek, The Washington Post, Essence, Rolling Stone, The Amsterdam News, huffingtonpost.com, and Vibe, where he was a founding staff member and served as a senior writer, interviewing and profiling, among many others, General Colin Powell and the late Tupac Shakur. Additionally Kevin has been a writing fellow for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, as well as a Phelps Stokes Fund Senior Fellow.
A gifted and sought after public speaker, Powell has lectured on multiculturalism, building corporate responsibility, American history, the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 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 a male in America at hundreds of colleges and universities, community centers, prisons, religious institutions, conferences, and festivals as well as in corporate settings.
A fixture on the pop culture landscape the past several years, Powell 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; and was the guest curator of the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s “Hip-Hop Nation: Roots, Rhymes, and Rage”—which originated at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, and of which Powell was the exhibition consultant—the first major exhibit in America on the history of hip-hop.
Powell has played a key role in the black male development arena, having produced, the past few years, among other things, a 10-city State of Black Men Tour, numerous black male think tank sessions, and Black and Male in America, a three-day national conference. Kevin has taught, mentored and counseled in schools, camps, prisons and on the streets of urban America. Powell was a central figure in the 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 more than 700 college students to work in the devastated region. Most recently, Powell has been very active in Haiti relief efforts, helping to ship thousands of pounds of supplies to that Caribbean nation.
Of his life work, Powell said, “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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