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Race Speakers

Our race keynote speakers are inciting real change: exposing the harmful policies and hidden biases that unfairly tip the playing field, and transforming them through art, photograph, film, writing, music, activism and more.    

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Heather McGhee

Distinguished Senior Fellow & Former President of Demos | Expert in Racial Healing

What if, in the middle of your live TV appearance, someone called in and asked for advice in overcoming racial prejudice? For public policy expert and speaker Heather C. McGhee, the response was natural—she helped. From the personal to the corporate, McGhee’s talks kickstart a much-needed cultural effort towards putting systemic repair into action. 
Sarah Lewis

Author of The Rise | Guest-Editor of Aperture’s “Vision & Justice” Issue | Associate Professor At Harvard

When we view race and justice through the lens of culture, we can enlarge our notion of citizenship, of who belongs and who counts. Sarah Lewis, an intellectual star and powerful speaker, has sparked a national conversation with “Vision & Justice”—the landmark issue of Aperture dedicated to photography of the black experience.  
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.  
Shaun King

Columnist at The Intercept | Writer-In-Residence at Harvard Law School’s Fair Punishment Project

When it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement, they’re talking specifically about human dignity for African Americans. And for this movement, journalist, humanitarian, and activist Shaun King, a columnist for The Intercept and the Writer-In-Residence at Harvard Law School’s Fair Punishment Project, is amongst the most compelling voices. 
Wanuri Kahiu

Acclaimed Writer & Director of Rafiki | Co-Founder of AFROBUBBLEGUM

Wanuri Kahiu is an acclaimed artist and filmmaker who shatters conventional thinking about representation in African culture. Kahiu creates work in her very own genre, which she’s coined “AfroBubbleGum”: an aesthetic mash-up of Marvel’s Black Panther and the candy store of your dreams. In talks, Kahiu shows why “fun, fierce and frivolous African art” is a political act.   
Anthony Jack

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

A student from a low-income background attends an elite university on scholarship, and finds herself burdened by that status. Upheaval like this will be addressed when modern institutions revise the policies of subtle, and not-so-subtle, exclusion that harden these divisions between students. In the ongoing dialogue about race, inclusion, and social justice, Jack’s talks provide a firm foundation for that conversation. 
Nikole Hannah-Jones

New York Times Magazine Staff Writer | MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow | Winner of the National Magazine Award

Nikole Hannah-Jones was named a MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow (one of only 24 people chosen, globally) for “reshaping national conversations around education reform” and for her reporting on racial re-segregation in our schools. This is the latest honor in a growing list: she’s won a Peabody, a Polk, and a National Magazine Award for her story on choosing a school for her daughter in a segregated city. 
Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Professor of History, Race and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School

Khalil Gibran Muhammad is redefining our understanding of diversity. Former Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and Harvard Kennedy School Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy, he explains how “bias education”—race ed.—can help individuals and institutions reconcile past with present and move toward greater equity. 
LaToya Ruby Frazier

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

For LaToya Ruby Frazier, art is a weapon—a catalyst for social justice. Her photographs and videos document today’s America: post-industrial cities riven by poverty, racism, healthcare inequality, and environmental toxicity. Bridging the personal with the social, her gorgeous work amplifies the voices of the vulnerable and transforms our sense of place and self.  
Waneek Horn-Miller

Olympian, Activist, and Speaker on Indigenous Health and Reconciliation

Waneek Horn-Miller has overcome discrimination and trauma to emerge as one of North America’s most inspiring activists and Olympians. She empowers our communities to overcome adversity, and helps us turn reconciliation—justice, healing, and dialogue—into a cornerstone of our national institutions. 
Angie Thomas

#1 New York Times Bestselling Author of On the Come Up and The Hate U Give

Angie Thomas’ On the Come Up is #1 on The New York Times bestseller list. The #2 spot? Her debut novel, The Hate U Give. It’s safe to say that this chart-topping author is no longer on the come up—she’s arrived. And if that wasn’t enough, On the Come Up is already being adapted into a movie by the makers of the blockbuster film version of The Hate U Give
 
Eddie Huang

Celebrity Chef | Bestselling Author of Fresh Off the Boat | Host for Vice and MTV

Celebrity chef. Bestselling author of Fresh Off the Boat—adapted into the groundbreaking hit ABC sitcom—as well as Double Cup Love. Yes, entrepreneur Eddie Huang is many things, but beneath each incarnation is an irresistible story of entrepreneurship and self-made success. He speaks on how embracing cultural diversity—your own story—is vital if we want to grow as people, and as a society. 
Gabby Rivera

Author of the New Marvel Comic Series America and Juliet Takes a Breath

Gabby Rivera is an outgoing, outspoken creator invested in fostering better dialogue, inspiring radical creativity, and improving our most vulnerable communities. The author of Juliet Takes a Breath, she’s also the writer of the Marvel series America—featuring the first queer, Latinx teen-girl superhero, ever. 
Titus Kaphar

2018 MacArthur Fellow | Award-Winning Painter and Sculptor

With more urgency than a headline, 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). Kaphar’s art and talks expose racism, inequality, and a criminal justice system that is anything but just. 
Negin Farsad

Social Justice Comedian, Director of The Muslims Are Coming!

Negin Farsad is at the forefront of social justice comedy—a field that she insists totally exists (or should). A TED Senior Fellow, author of How to Make White People Laugh, and as one of few Iranian-American Muslim female comedian/filmmakers, Farsad uses humor—full-scale ridiculousity—to bridge the racial, religious, social, and immigrant gap. 
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. 
Jelani Cobb

New Yorker Staff Writer, Speaker on Race in America

Journalist, educator, and diversity speaker Jelani Cobb writes about the enormous complexity of race in America. Cobb has been praised for combining “the strengths of an on-the-scene reporter, a public intellectual, a teacher, a vivid writer, a subtle moralist, and an accomplished professional historian”—qualities he brings to his gripping talks.
Jeff Chang

Social Historian | Author of We Gon’ Be Alright and Can't Stop Won't Stop | VP of Narrative, Arts, and Culture at Race Forward

“Culture moves before politics,” says Jeff Chang, who writes on art, multiculturalism, and racial progress in post-civil rights America with the sweeping authority of the best social historians. In We Gon’ Be Alright—his acclaimed essay collection, adapted into a digital series—he explores the meaning of diversity in an era of racial and economic resegregation: telling a lively and tumultuous narrative of modern American life.
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.

 

 
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—a #1 NYT bestseller and inspiration for 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 Blind Spot | Former Photography Critic for NYT Magazine

A prodigious novelist, critic, and photographer, Teju Cole’s first novel, Open City, won the PEN/Hemingway Award. His second, Every Day Is for the Thief, was named a Book of the Year by The New York Times. Most recently, Cole produced Blind Spot—a synthesis of written observations and travel photography. 
Jordin Tootoo

The first Inuk Player in the NHL | Founder of the Team Tootoo Foundation

The first Inuk player in history to be drafted by the NHL, Jordin Tootoo offers a moving and timely discussion of grit and resilience, goal-setting, overcoming adversity in the pursuit of excellence, and how life can be improved through meaningful stewardship.