Political activist, motivational speaker and author Kevin Powell will be the keynote speaker at The University of Toledo’s 29th Annual Conference for Aspiring Minority Youth Saturday, Jan. 26.
Sponsored by Toledo Excel and the UT Joint Committee, the conference will take place from 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. in the Student Union Auditorium. This year’s theme is “The Bigger Picture: Understanding Your Role in the Global Community.”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 will share that story in The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey Into Manhood, an autobiography expected to be out this spring.
He is the author or editor of 11 books, including his newest title, Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan and The Ghost of Dr. King: Blogs and Essays, a collection that examines American leadership, politics and social issues like gender violence, immigration and equality for all Americans.
Additionally, Powell has written for numerous publications, including The Washington Post, Newsweek, Essence, Ebony, Esquire, Rolling Stone and Vibe, where he was a senior writer for several years and documented the life and times of the late Tupac Shakur.
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.
Powell is co-founder of a new national organization, BK Nation, which will focus on education, job creation and small business development, civic engagement, and health and wellness.
“My life-calling is to be a servant for the people, period,” Powell said. “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.”“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 “Parents’ Guide to Bully Prevention and Intervention.” The session will feature Clarence R. Smith Jr., who brings more than 35 years of experience working with adults, students and faculty members in developing custom diversity and inclusion initiatives. A former director of human resource services and high school principal, Smith has designed, led and guided a variety of discriminatory harassment prevention activities, from policy development to implementation. The session will provide parents with insight on how to recognize if their child is being bullied or bullying others, provide strategies for dealing with bullying issues, discuss the rise of technological bullying, and share ways of monitoring and guiding their child’s online behavior.
A concurrent student session titled “The Bigger Picture: Understanding Your Role in the Global Community” will discuss opportunities to become involved with the arts in the local community, inspire exploration of creativity and imagination, and highlight the many artistic resources available in the area. This session also will cover how art allows people to learn about different cultures, ethnic groups and social backgrounds on a global scale.
A second student concurrent session titled “Excelling Into Law: Seeking Law as a Career” will be presented by Toledo’s Thurgood Marshall Law Association and explore the field as a career choice.
Toledo Excel was established in 1988 to help groups of students underrepresented in higher education, including African, Asian, Hispanic and Native Americans, for success in college. Through services such as summer institutes, academic retreat weekends, campus visits and guidance through the admission process, students increase their self-esteem, cultural awareness and civic involvement.
The Office of Excellence is a hub of academic programs, activities and services that reach students in the eighth grade through high school graduation and beyond. These programs include Toledo Excel, Upward Bound, Student Support Services and the annual conference for Aspiring Minority Youth. The Office of Excellence is a division of the UT Learning Collaborative that works to support and enhance the academic journey.
The 36-member UT Joint Committee includes representatives from The University of Toledo, Toledo Public and Parochial schools, and civic and community leaders from the city of Toledo. The mission of the committee is to bring together people in the Toledo community interested in the education of underrepresented youth. The UT Joint Committee also serves as an advisory board and support system for Toledo Excel.
Make a reservation for the free, public conference by visiting utoledo.edu/success/excel or calling 419.530.3820.