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Black History Month

We’re celebrating the deep culture and history of the Black community. Our speakers are lionhearted icons who are changing the way we think about race, society, and justice—and their work isn't over yet. They’re here to tell us how far we’ve come and where we need to go next.

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Black History Month
Speakers
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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—and most troubled—periods in history. 
Nikole Hannah-Jones

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Creator of The 1619 Project | New York Times Magazine Staff Writer | MacArthur Genius | Winner of the National Magazine Award

Nikole Hannah-Jones is the Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of ‘The 1619 Project’ and a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine who has spent her career investigating racial inequality and injustice. Her reporting earned her the MacArthur Fellowship, known as the Genius grant, a Peabody Award, two George Polk Awards, and the National Magazine Award three times. 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. Library Journal writes, “this invaluable book sets itself apart by reframing readers’ understanding of U.S. history, past and present.” 
Jelani Cobb

New Yorker Staff Writer | Speaker on Race, History, Politics and Culture in America

Against the backdrop of a pandemic that disproportionately affects Black people, and 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. A long-time writer for The New Yorker, and editor of its recent anthology collection The Matter of Black Lives, 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.”
Annette Gordon-Reed

Pulitzer Prize-winning Author of The Hemingses of Monticello and On Juneteenth | Harvard Professor | MacArthur Fellow

“It is staggering that there is no date commemorating the end of slavery in the United States,” says Annette Gordon-Reed, the first African-American recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for History and one of the most authoritative voices on race and history in America. In talks based on her instant New York Times bestseller On Juneteenth, Gordon-Reed weaves together American history, dramatic family chronicle, and searing episodes of memoir, to reveal the country’s most important story that was never told.  
Anthony Jack

Assistant Prof. of Ed. at Harvard University | Author of The Privileged Poor

Elite colleges are accepting diverse and disadvantaged students more than ever before—but to Anthony Jack, access does not equal acceptance. An Assistant Professor at Harvard and author of The Privileged Poor, Jack—once a low-income, first-generation college student himself—studies how poor students are often failed by the top schools that admit them. In talks, he details how class divides on campus create barriers to academic success—and shares what schools can do to truly level the playing field. 
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. Muhammad also hosts the podcast Some of My Best Friends Are, a show candidly exploring the intricacies and absurdities of race. A Harvard Kennedy School Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy, Muhammad explains how “bias education”—race education—can help individuals, institutions, and workplaces reconcile the past within the present, and move towards greater equity, together. 
Wes Hall

Founder of Kingsdale Advisors | Co-Star of CBC’s Dragons’ Den

The newest judge on the cult classic show Dragons’ Den, Wes Hall is both a corporate juggernaut and a champion for Black leaders. Despite being dubbed one of North America’s “most influential power brokers” (The Globe and Mail), Hall comes from humble beginnings. Growing up in a tin shack in rural Jamaica with 13 siblings, he quickly learned the value of hard work, perseverance, and dreaming big. Today, whether he’s orchestrating billion-dollar deals, or helping organizations tackle anti-Black systemic barriers, Hall offers inspiring and actionable business guidance for the post-pandemic future we’re building.   
Spike Lee

Oscar-Winning Director of BlacKkKlansman, Do the Right Thing, and When the Levees Broke

Spike Lee needs no introduction. In person, the provocateur and media icon is never at a loss for words. As one of the most outspoken African American voices, he talks candidly, and with authority, about issues of race in mainstream media and Hollywood, using as a backdrop a rare behind-the-scenes look at his celebrated body of work.

 

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.
Nic Stone

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

Acclaimed YA author Nic Stone is inspiring the next generation of social activists with her vivid and painfully timely novels. Her debut Dear Martin—a #1 New York Times bestseller taught in classrooms across the country—and its stunning sequel Dear Justyce, deftly explore themes of oppression, liberation, and race relations in America. With similar parallels in their work, Stone counts The Hate U Give author Angie Thomas among her many fans, calling Dear Martin a “must-read” and Stone’s writing “honest and gut-wrenching.” Stone’s oeuvre, which includes a Marvel series, enlightens her down-to-earth talks—leaving audiences empowered with the tools they’ll need in the fight for an antiracist society. 
LaToya Ruby Frazier

Photographer | Associate Professor at School of the Art Institute of Chicago | MacArthur Genius

One of the nation’s most acclaimed photographers, LaToya Ruby Frazier’s work depicts the unsettling reality of today’s America: post-industrial cities riven by poverty, racism, healthcare inequality, and environmental toxicity. By featuring voices and perspectives traditionally erased from the American narrative, MacArthur “Genius” Frazier not only captures our cultural blind spots—she teaches us how art is a powerful tool for social transformation.
Titus Kaphar

2018 MacArthur Fellow | Award-Winning Painter and Sculptor

Urgent and timely, Titus Kaphar’s artworks capture the spirit of social justice and change in America today (exemplified in his TIME cover portrait of the Ferguson protests). Named a 2018 MacArthur Fellow for “highlighting the lack of representation of people of color in the canon of Western art with works that deconstruct the literal and visual structure of the artwork,” Kaphar’s art and talks expose racism, inequality, and a criminal justice system that is anything but just.
Angela Davis

Legendary Human Rights Activist

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.

 

Minnijean Brown-Trickey

Civil Rights Legend Who Helped Desegregate Public Schools

In 1957, Minniejean 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.
Margot Lee Shetterly

Author of Hidden Figures: the #1 New York Times bestseller, and inspiration for the #1 movie.

Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures—the #1 NYT 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. 
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. His first novel, Open City, won the PEN/Hemingway Award, while his second book, Every Day Is for the Thief, was named a Book of the Year by The New York Times. 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 upcoming 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. As we collectively reckon with the aftermath of the pandemic, and finally begin to face the deep-rootedness of racism in this country, her work is empowering, exciting, and indispensable for the new world we’re building.
Bryant Terry

Author of Black Food | James Beard Leadership Award Winner | Founder of 4 Color Books

Bryant Terry is a chef, food justice activist, and critically acclaimed author fighting for a more just and sustainable food system. Groundbreaking and rich, his work illuminates the intersections that exist today between poverty, structural racism, and food insecurity, in order to pave a new, better path forward. In his new book Black Food, Bryant offers a stunning and deeply heartfelt tribute to Black culinary ingenuity, capturing the broad and divergent voices of the African Diaspora in a way that’s never been done before.
Marcus Bullock

Founder and CEO of Flikshop | Justice Reform Advocate | TED Speaker

At the age of 15, Marcus Bullock was sentenced to eight years in adult maximum security prison—for stealing a car. Now released, he’s turned his entrepreneurial vision into Flikshop, an ingeniously simple app that allows family members to connect with prisoners, who are otherwise isolated, via short messages and photos. Bullock’s story is the buzz of the tech world, the business community, prison reform groups, and audiences from The White House to SXSW to TED. In talks, he shares his powerful tale of perseverance and innovation in the face of remarkable obstacles.