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Black History Month

 

February is Black History Month, but for our speakers, the work is year-round. They show us how to honor the legacy and history of Black communities across America, learn about the struggles and triumphs facing Black Americans today, and chart a course towards a more equitable future.

 
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Black History Month
Speakers
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Minnijean Brown-Trickey

Civil Rights Legend Who Helped Desegregate Public Schools

In 1957, Minnijean Brown-Trickey changed history by striding through the front doors of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. As a member of the Little Rock Nine, she helped desegregate public schools—a milestone in civil rights history—and alter the course of education in America. Her talks are a sweeping exploration of social change and a reminder that the fight is far from over. 
Nikole Hannah-Jones

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Creator of The 1619 Project | MacArthur Genius | Winner of the National Magazine Award

Nikole Hannah-Jones is the Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of ‘The 1619 Project’ and a writer at The New York Times Magazine who has spent her career investigating racial inequality and injustice. Named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, Hannah-Jones serves as the Knight Chair of Race and Journalism at Howard University, where she is founding the Center for Journalism & Democracy. Hannah-Jones is also the editor of The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, an instant #1 New York Times bestseller.
Margot Lee Shetterly

Author of Hidden Figures, the #1 New York Times bestseller and hit film

Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures—the #1 New York Times bestseller that inspired a #1 movie in America—is the true story of the black women mathematicians at NASA who helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space. In talks, Shetterly celebrates these unsung heroes, teasing out issues of race, gender, science, and innovation against the backdrop of WWII and the Civil Rights Era. 
Annette Gordon-Reed

Pulitzer Prize-winning Author of On Juneteenth | Harvard Professor | MacArthur Genius

Annette Gordon-Reed, the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize for History, is one of the integral voices who helped Juneteenth officially enter our national conversation. Her book On Juneteenth is a powerful, essential work of history that weaves together America’s past with personal memoir; it was named one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post, TIME, and NPR. The New York Times said Annette is “one of the most important American historians of our time.”
George M. Johnson

New York Times Bestselling Author Of All Boys Aren’t Blue & We Are Not Broken | LGBTQIA+ Activist

George M. Johnson, whose body of work on diversity and queer identity inspires millions of readers across the world to “be themselves unapologetically,” writing has the power to change lives. The Award-Winning Black Non-Binary author and activist is one of Out’s 100 Most Influential LGBTQ People. Their New York Times Bestselling memoir All Boys Aren’t Blue, a powerful recounting of George’s adolescence growing up as a young Black Queer boy in New Jersey, was called “an exuberant, unapologetic memoir infused with a deep but cleareyed love for its subjects” by the New York Times. 
Angela Davis

Legendary Human Rights Activist

“One of the iconic faces of Black politics in 1970s America” (Huffington Post), Angela Davis is internationally known for her ongoing work to combat all forms of oppression in the U.S. and abroad. Her work as an educator—both at the university level and in the larger public sphere—has always emphasized the importance of building communities of struggle for economic, racial, and gender equality.  
Michelle Coles

Civil Rights Attorney | Award-Winning Author of Black Was the Ink | Former attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice

Michelle Coles bridges our past and our hoped-for future: a civil rights attorney with over a decade at the Department of Justice, she’s also written an award-winning YA novel that sheds light on the heroic but forgotten contributions of Black Americans who fought alongside White allies to make the promise of American democracy real for all. By showing how history relates to the present, Michelle equips audiences with tools to disrupt destructive patterns that perpetuate racial inequality.
Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School | Co-Host of Some of My Best Friends Are | Author of The Condemnation of Blackness

Widely known as one of the most influential authorities on racial justice in America, Khalil Gibran Muhammad is redefining our understanding of diversity and equity. His work has been featured in the landmark New York Times’  “1619 Project,” as well as Ava DuVernay’s Oscar-nominated Netflix documentary 13th. A Harvard Kennedy School Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy, Khalil explains how “bias education”—race education—can help individuals, institutions, and workplaces reconcile the past within the present, and move towards greater equity, together. 
Heather McGhee

Author of New York Times Bestseller The Sum of Us

A renowned expert on the American economy, Heather McGhee is one of the most brilliant and influential thinkers exploring inequality today. Both her viral TED talk and her instant New York Times bestseller The Sum of Us reveal the devastating true cost of racism—not just for people of color, but for everyone. Deeply stirring, intelligent, and compassionate, McGhee’s talks offer us an actionable roadmap during one of the most critical periods in history. 
Jelani Cobb

New Yorker Writer | Columbia Journalism School Dean | Speaker on Race, History, Politics and Culture in America

Against the backdrop of a renewed push for racial justice, historian and Peabody Award-winning journalist Jelani Cobb emerges as a clear voice in the fight for a better America. A PBS Frontline correspondent for two critically acclaimed documentaries—Policing the Police and Whose Vote Counts—Cobb explores the enormous complexities of race and inequality, while offering guidance and hope for the future. Cobb’s work is described as having the “rigor and depth of a professional historian with the alertness of a reporter, the liberal passion of an engaged public intellectual, and the literary flair of a fine writer.” 
Nic Stone

#1 New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin and Dear Justyce

When we hear someone tell their story, we connect to them in a deep and more meaningful way. Beloved bestselling author Nic Stone says that stories link us together; when we listen to the lives and experiences of people who are different from us, we’ll discover our common ground. Nic’s #1 New York Times bestselling books, including the hit Dear Martin (the story of a modern teenager who writes letters to Martin Luther King Jr.) are real, emotional, and profound. She empowers us to see that our stories matter, and that we can use them to build bridges and leave a positive, vibrant legacy. 
Angie Thomas

#1 New York Times Bestselling Author of Concrete Rose and The Hate U Give

Angie Thomas’ debut novel, The Hate U Give, has spent more than three years on the New York Times bestseller list, where it was joined by her second novel, On the Come Up, and now her third, Concrete Rose. Blockbuster books and two major film adaptations have amplified Thomas’ clear, crucial voice when we need it most—to #BlackLivesMatter protesters, igniting real change in the fight for racial justice, and through the chaos of a global pandemic that disproportionately hurt people of color. Her keynotes are powerful, urgent, necessary, and most importantly, hopeful. 
Teju Cole

Professor of Creative Writing at Harvard | Author of Black Paper | Former Photography Critic for NYT Magazine

A prodigious novelist, critic, and photographer, Teju Cole was born in the US and raised in Nigeria—a biographical fact that informs much of his work. Described as a “profound book of essays by a master of the form,” his latest book, Black Paper, examines how we can sustain our humanity during a deeply troubling and fractured moment of our history. These essays—on art, literature, politics, activism—serve as a reminder “that darkness cannot last forever, and even within it, there is meaning and hope.” 
Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman

Editor of The Black Agenda | Co-Founder of The Sadie Collective | Speaker on Diversity and the Future of Work

Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman is the co-founder of the only non-profit organization addressing the pipeline and pathway problem for Black women in fields of economics, finance, and policy. In her book The Black Agenda, Opoku-Agyeman features Black voices across economics, education, health, climate, and technology, all speaking to the question “What’s next?” as it pertains to centering Black people in policy matters in our country. Her work is empowering, exciting, and indispensable for the new world we’re building.
Bill Strickland

An Extraordinary Business and Community Leader

As the founder and chairman of the Manchester Bidwell arts and training center, Bill Strickland inspires hope, generates jobs, and empowers citizens to become experts in any field—regardless of their circumstances. Strickland shows us how to pursue social restoration and profit with a conscience. His leadership fuels a deep desire to make the world we live in a better place—and anyone who hears him speak will undoubtedly be compelled to act.