June 26, 2012
11 a.m., Watson Fine Arts Center
Our students enjoyed the academic opportunity of observing Juneteenth and the fortieth anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law from a fresh perspective with author Kevin Powell. His public seminar Barack Obama, Dr. King, and the Future of Civil Rights followed two classroom seminars for our English composition students and meetings with our leadership team. “America is not the country it once was,” said Powell, an author of 11 books, including the collection of political and pop culture writings, Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and The Ghost of Dr. King: Blogs and Essays. “President Obama would not exist without great gains being made in this country. All who came before us had something to do with gains made in rights for women, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, the poor… We need to learn how to uplift each other. What matters most is what we as a people do to transform themselves out of nothing in a way that says something about the spirit of America,” said Powell. “You could tell that there was something different about this man as he entered my class,” wrote English seminar student Marshall Shepard. “He interviewed rapper/actor Tupac Shakur for Vibe magazine, which I do take great interest in. Our final assignment on how to fix different societal issues interested him greatly, and he proceeded to ask around the room for everybody’s topic. He built a real connection with each individual he asked, especially with me. He stated that he loved everyone and that he holds no one to what they like, do and/or say because, we were all ‘brothers and sisters.’ You can tell he feels very strongly about what he says and believes. He most definitely opened my eyes to the idea that life is what you make it and not to give up so easily,” Shepard wrote. “My most important message for the English composition seminar students at St. Philip’s College was that it’s not enough to write. You must get on the internet and share your story,” Powell said, adding, “Students, thank you for having me.” The New York City-based author's diverse body of literary work includes articles, essays, blogs and reviews for audiences of Essence, Rolling Stone, Newsweek, Esquire, The Washington Post, The Amsterdam News and huffingtonpost.com. Powell was a founding staff member and senior writer of Vibe magazine.