The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

A speakers bureau that represents the best original thinkers,
writers, and doers for speaking engagements.

A Beautiful Life: LaToya Ruby Frazier Photographs Breonna Taylor’s Family for Vanity Fair

Acclaimed photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier took portraits of Breonna Taylor’s family for the cover story of Vanity Fair’s September issue (guest-edited by Ta-Nehisi Coates, with words by Breonna’s mother Tamika Palmer). Below is LaToya’s powerfully moving statement on the project.

I can’t stop thinking about Breonna Taylor, her murder and unjust criminalization made me so upset that I risked my life and broke quarantine, knowing I am highly susceptible to COVID-19 due to having Lupus, an autoimmune disorder. This is how much it meant to me to reclaim a visual justice and humane dignified representations of Breonna and her family members. My mother was a nurse, my niece is an aspiring nurse, Breonna Taylor wanted to be a nurse, not a piece of legislation or another slain statistic at the hands of law enforcement in America. Since Breonna worked as an EMT this would mean that the LMPD are her colleagues. To be brutally murdered at home, in the middle of the night, by the very people you work with within your community is the most offensive and heinous crime against humanity.


If you look up the very definition of the characteristics and attributes of an EMT worker or a nurse, it provides the proof and evidence of Breonna’s character. My portraits are a call for justice and the unwavering steadfast endurance of Black women in America regardless of the persecution we face on a daily basis. Breonna Taylor is a hero, a frontline essential worker, and I demand justice now. Lastly, the way the LMPD portrayed her loving boyfriend and fiancé Kenneth Walker was inexcusable. These portraits serve to restore Kenneth's humanity and to honor his love for Breonna, as he was about to propose to her. It is abundantly clear that as time goes on and more details are revealed and there are still no arrests of the police officers and detective that murdered Breonna, that in America Black people have no constitutional rights, and therefore all lives can’t matter until Black Lives Matter!


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Learn more about LaToya Ruby Frazier and The Lavin Agency’s  Social Justice Speakers.

Artist Titus Kaphar Explores Black Motherhood in His Latest Paintings

From a Tropical Space is the latest series from Titus Kaphar, the award-winning painter, sculptor, and MacArthur “Genius.” Although the New York exhibition of this work has been postponed, Kaphar is currently the focus of Gagosian’s latest “Artist Spotlight.” In a new interview with Vulture, the artist speaks candidly about the project he describes as a “surrealist, fictional Afro-futuristic narrative” about black mothers and the disappearance of their children.

Much of Titus Kaphar’s past work is rooted in art history. At first glance, From a Tropical Space seems to be a departure from that focus. “We don’t see very many pictures of black women in art history, period. They are not our Madonnas. They’re not our Venuses. They are not our odalisque,” Kaphar tells Vulture. “What we have is the depiction of black folks in general, and black women specifically, as enslaved and [in] servitude.”


Yet upon closer inspection, the work has more to do with the canon than first meets the eye. “When I looked at the compositions themselves, I realized that this [series] is a conversation about the Madonna. This is a conversation about the Pietà. These are mothers mourning the loss of their children. So in that way, the relationship to art history is there. It’s just, the expression has changed.”


The series depicts portraits of black mothers with their children erased from the canvas, leaving a blank cut-out where there bodies should be. Kaphar explains that they were removed very precisely with a razor blade, and that the work relates to the trauma these mothers are experiencing. “That kind of anxiety, that kind of fear in these paintings, culminates into this moment of absence.”


Read his full interview here.


To book speaker Titus Kaphar for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today, and connect with a knowledgeable member of our sales team.

Nikole-Hannah Jones’ Essay for ‘The 1619 Project’ Wins a Pulitzer Prize

Creator Nikole Hannah-Jones reexamined the legacy of slavery in America in the ambitious project, which recognized the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans arriving in Virginia. For her introductory essay, Hannah-Jones has been awarded the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for commentary. 

New York Times Magazine’s ‘The 1619 Project’ was perhaps the most talked about piece of journalism of the year, featuring inspiring work from Black authors, journalists, activists, and artists. Nikole Hannah-Jones, the creator and lead writer on the project, penned the introductory essay under the powerful headline ‘Our Democracy’s Founding Ideals Were False When They Were Written. Black Americans Have Fought to Make Them True.’


In it, she writes, “But it would be historically inaccurate to reduce the contributions of black people to the vast material wealth created by our bondage. Black Americans have also been, and continue to be, foundational to the idea of American freedom. More than any other group in this country’s history, we have served, generation after generation, in an overlooked but vital role: It is we who have been the perfecters of this democracy.”


Thought-provoking and beautifully written, Hannah-Jones’ essay will be remembered for being one of the most impactful modern pieces on the subject of race and slavery. Upon learning of her Pulitzer win, she called the project “the most important work of my life.”


Read her full essay here.


To book speaker Nikole Hannah-Jones for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today, her exclusive speakers bureau.


Age Activist Ashton Applewhite Says Beating Coronavirus Means Confronting Ageism and Ableism

As new coronavirus cases surge and more and more people self-isolate to flatten the curve, the nation’s economy continues to plummet. On Twitter, the suggestion that older people should sacrifice themselves for the sake of the economy is only one indication of how ageism and ableism are being laid bare during this pandemic. Ashton Applewhite tackles the issue in her latest op-ed.  

“The pandemic has exposed our shredded social safety net as never before, and a hospital system crippled by decades of cost-cutting, underfunding, and chronic understaffing by underpaid workers to benefit profiteering corporations,” writes Ashton Applewhite. Under such circumstances, America will likely soon follow in the footsteps of countries like Italy and Spain, who are having to make heartbreaking decisions about who to treat in the midst of this public health emergency.


Applewhite contends that while these complex ethical decisions are necessary, allocating resources by age is a lethal form of discrimination. “The most dangerous manifestation of ageism during the pandemic is the suggestion of an age limit for medical treatment, so it won’t be ‘wasted,’ she writes. And though it is true that older people are at more risk, underlying conditions play a far bigger role than age when it comes to recovering from the illness. Unfortunately, age is much quicker to assess than a full medical historya disadvantage when life-or-death decisions must be made instantly.


“In every other context, it’s up to the rest of us to push back against every form of social bias,” writes Applewhite. “We are engaged in a massive collective experiment to protect the vulnerable, whoever they turn out to be. It’s high stakes, and it’s as intersectional as it can get. We are truly all in this together.”


Read her full article here.


To book speaker Ashton Applewhite for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today, her exclusive speakers bureau.

Acclaimed Artist and Activist Molly Crabapple Provides Powerful Visuals for Project on Prison Life

The Zo is a groundbreaking new video project exploring the twisted realities of prison life, illustrated by superstar artist Molly Crabapple and narrated by The Wire’s Emmy-Award winning actor Michael K. Williams.

Based on the essay by Yale student Patrick Doolittle and the archive of prison writings compiled in an open-source database invented by Professor Doran Larson of Hamilton College, The Zo (Zo is prison lingo for The Twilight Zone) showcases Molly Crabapple’s disorienting visualization of life—or something like it—behind bars. It’s a world where guards’ favorite past time is messing with prisoner’s heads, creating deliberately disorienting rules and assigning impossible, contradictory tasks at whim. It’s an intricate struggle between the powerless and those with the power, and Crabapple’s illustrations perfectly capture that destructive dance.


Williams’ compelling narration tells of inmates forced to adapt to intentionally erratic schedules or face the consequences, submit to arbitrary punishments, and try to figure out deliberately unpredictable “routines”—all while we see Crabapple literally paint a picture of the precariousness of the dignity, safety, and humanity of the prisoners. The Zo is produced by First Look Media’s new streaming service Topic, who offer curated, provocative, meaningful content on topical issues.


Crabapple has been called “equal parts Hieronymus Bosch, William S. Burroughs and Cirque du Soleil,” by The Guardian. She regularly speaks to audiences around the world, at institutions such as The Museum of Modern Art, The London School of Economics, and Harvard and Columbia Universities. Her works are held in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and The New York Historical Society.    


To book speaker Molly Crabapple, contact her exclusive speakers bureau, The Lavin Agency. 

Angela Davis Featured in Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp Youth Empowerment Initiative

Dr. Angela Davis is a brilliant educator, political activist and author. She’s used her immense intellectual acumen to champion the idea that a world where all of humanity can flourish is not only worth pursuing, but possible. Her timeless contributions to human rights pursuits and uplifting Black voices are just part of why she is one of ten leaders profiled in Paper Magazine’s feature on Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp (KYRC).

What started as an idea by Colin Kaepernick and his wife Nessa—months before he famously took a knee during the national anthem in protest of systemic anti-Blackness in the justice system—KYRC has grown into a powerful movement for educating and empowering Black youth across the nation. It’s focused around 10 fundamental human rights, that, according to Kaepernick. represent the affirmations that ought to be enjoyed by Black people worldwide. Rights like; to be Educated, to be Free, to be Safe, and to be Alive.

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“I think society tends to discredit the brilliance of Black people because that brilliance always pushes us forward. It pushes us into positions that may not be exactly comfortable”

— Angela Davis in Paper Magazine

https://www.thelavinagency.com/contactFittingly, Dr. Davis was selected to represent the Right to be Brilliant. Her tireless zeal to demand answers from those in power to inconvenient questions, and to expose difficult truths is emblematic of the vigor needed to grow a modern, vibrant movement toward the liberation of Black people.

“Since the advent of slavery, Black people have been fighting back,” says Davis, “And have used their knowledge, their insight, their collective brilliance to challenge that predicament, and, in the process, have pushed the entire world in a progressive direction.” It’s this push to brilliance and progress that KYRC wants to instill in teaching young people their rights.

Brilliance inspires and creates, and in many ways, Davis—internationally recognized author, professor, and abolitionist is the very embodiment of this. But she sees a broader picture: “Well, I think of brilliance as a collective phenomenon,” she says to Kaepernick, “And I think that true brilliance emanates from and results in collective processes and collective changes.”

To book speaker Angela Davis, contact The Lavin Agency, her exclusive speaker’s bureau, today.

Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times Launch 1619 Project: Marking 400 Years Since American Slavery Began

Without the monumental efforts of Black Americans in the face of incredible opposition, democracy as we know it would not exist. Nikole Hannah-Jones is lifting up the remarkable contributions of Black Americans to the nation, and acknowledging the true, fraught beginnings of American history, with her groundbreaking 1619 Project

A major multimedia initiative, The 1619 Project is a series of essays and art which explore how virtually every aspect of American society—from infrastructure, to industry, to culture—were shaped by and dependent on slavery. Developed and spearheaded by New York Times staff writer Nikole Hannah-Jones, and featuring work by Black American authors, activists, journalists, and artists, the project is available online as an interactive website; makes up the entirety of August’s New York Times Magazine print issue; and will continue an ongoing series of lectures and special live events.


For a holistic and accurate view of American history, we need to acknowledge that the year 1619—when colonists brought over the first boat of enslaved Africans—is just as important as 1776. Says Hannah-Jones: “…it would be historically inaccurate to reduce the contributions of black people to the vast material wealth created by our bondage. Black Americans have also been, and continue to be, foundational to the idea of American freedom,” in the first essay of the project.


The 1619 Project is beautiful, heartbreaking, unprecedented, and absolutely essential. The personal stories, political essays, and historical events explored and exposed within provide indisputable proof of the need for America to rewrite our narrative, and finally tell the truth.


The New York Times Presents The #1619Project


To book speaker Nikole Hannah-Jones, contact The Lavin Agency, her exclusive speakers bureau.

Emily Bazelon’s Charged (Out Today!) Outlines a Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration

In her new book Charged, renowned journalist, podcaster, and legal commentator Emily Bazelon exposes the unchecked power of prosecutors as a driving force in America’s mass incarceration crisis—and charts an actionable path to fix it.    

“This combination of powerful reporting with painstaking research yields a comprehensive examination of the modern American criminal justice system that appeals to both the head and the heart,” reads a rave New York Times review. Additional raves come from Serial host Sarah Koenig: “Bazelon, cogent and clear-eyed as ever, lays out a welcome double-barreled argument: A prosecutorial shift toward mercy and fairness is crucial to healing our busted criminal justice system, and it’s already happening.” 


Charged follows the harrowing story of two young people caught up in the criminal justice system. Tracking the cases from arrest and charging to trial and sentencing, Bazelon applies her trademark blend of deeply reported narrative and legal analysis to illustrate exactly how criminal prosecutions can go wrong, and more importantly why they don’t have to. “She believes that American prosecution can heal itself,” says the NYT. “They can protect against convicting the innocent. They can guard against racial bias. They can curtail mass incarceration.”


A crucial book, written by one of our sharpest investigative journalists, Charged provides the blueprint for a different and profoundly better future.  


To book Emily Bazelon for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency, her exclusive speakers bureau.

Read the First Excerpt from On the Come Up, Angie Thomas’ Highly Anticipated Follow-Up to The Hate U Give

Angie Thomas is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Hate U Give, which garnered widespread critical acclaim and was turned into a major motion picture. Thomas’ highly anticipated sequel On the Come Up, is out Feb. 5. Read an exclusive excerpt in Entertainment Weekly

In the video below, Thomas talks about her inspiration for On the Come Up, a book about, “what it means to be young and black in America, when freedom of speech isn’t always free.” 


When Worlds Collide | The Hate U Give & On The Come Up with Angie Thomas


To book Angie Thomas for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency.