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Author/activist to give keynote address at Conference for Aspiring Minority Youth

Political activist, motivational speaker and author Kevin Powell will be the keynote speaker at The University of Toledo’s 32nd Annual Conference for Aspiring Minority Youth on Saturday, Jan. 30.

This year’s event with the theme “Beyond the Classroom: The Rewards of Self-Directed Learning” will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Student Union Auditorium. It is sponsored by Toledo Excel and the UT Joint Committee.


An acclaimed community activist and award-winning writer, Powell was born and raised in Jersey City, N.J., by a single mom in extreme poverty surrounded by violence. In spite of these circumstances, Powell studied at Rutgers University and has become one of the most respected writers and voices of his generation. He shared that story in the 2015 autobiography titled The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey Into Manhood.

He is the author or editor of 12 books and has written for numerous publications, including The Washington Post, Newsweek, Essence, Ebony, Esquire, Rolling Stone and Vibe.

As a leader, Powell has worked on a range of concerns, including voter registration, Hurricane Katrina relief, education, the environment, eradicating poverty, and supply and resource support for post-earthquake Haiti.

As an extension of his public service work, Powell routinely lectures across America and internationally, and he is a frequent presence on television and radio offering his commentary on a variety of issues, including the national conversation on domestic violence and how men can help to end the assault on women and girls.

He is co-founder of a national organization, BK Nation, which focuses on education, job creation and small business development, civic engagement, and health and wellness.

“Recognized for his sociopolitical influence, Kevin has earned a reputation as a positive force among youth and young adults,” said David Young, director of the Office of Excellence and the Toledo Excel Program. “His commitment to fostering broad-based communication about issues related to politics, violence and socioeconomics will make him an outstanding speaker for this conference.”

After the general session featuring Powell, there will be a breakout session for parents and educators titled “Stop Picking on Me.” This session will be led by Heather Baker, director of pupil placement and child adjustment services for Toledo Public Schools, and Cathleen Smith, Toledo Public Schools educator.

A concurrent session for students titled “Self-Directed Learning: Seeking Education Beyond the Classroom” will be facilitated by Rhonda Sewell, government affairs and media strategist at the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, and feature a panel of distinguished Toledo Excel alumni.

The free, public conference is hosted by Toledo Excel, which was established in 1988 to help prepare groups of students underrepresented in higher education for success in college.

Media Coverage
The Blade (Jan. 31, 2016)

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