Kevin Powell is one of the most acclaimed political, cultural, literary and hip-hop voices in America today. 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 a 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.
Powell's writings have also appeared in CNN.com, Esquire, Ebony, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, 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. Powell also routinely appears in interviews on television, radio, and in print and on the internet discussing major issues of our time.
As an activist, Powell 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, arts and culture, and job and small business creation. He was also a Democratic candidate for Congress in Brooklyn, New York, his adopted hometown, in 2008 and 2010.
Powell routinely travels America and globally as a public speaker, at colleges and corporations, at 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. Powell 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. As a result, he has been named the International Ambassador for the Dylan Thomas Centennial in America for 2014.
Moreover, as a pop culture curator, Powell 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. As a humanitarian, his 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 — and he has done much philanthropic and relief work, ranging from Hurricane Katrina to earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, to Superstorm Sandy in New York, to his annual holiday party and clothing drive for the homeless every December since 9/11.
As an acknowledgement of Powell'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.