Posted by: Elizabeth A. (Betty) Thomas | January 11, 2017

What I am Reading: The Education of Kevin Powell


Have you read All Over but the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg? It is an autobiography about growing up dirt poor in northeastern Alabama. The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey into Manhood is Kevin Powell’s autobiography about growing up dirt poor in the ghetto in Jersey City.  Both men were raised by single mothers. Both men experienced violence in their childhoods. Both men went on to become successful writers: Bragg won a Pulitzer Prize for his writing for The New York Times; Powell’s writings have appeared in The Washington Post, Newsweek, Essence, Ebony, Rolling Stone, and Vibe.

Powell’s journey was not a straight path. While he excelled in school and was able to go to Rutgers University, his suppressed anger sabotaged his own success several times along the way. His book includes chapters from his life about appearing on MTV’s The Real World, writing for Vibe magazine, running unsuccessfully for Congress, and journeying to Africa.  In an interview about his book, Powell said that his memoir has been inside him for years. He also said that while he did not target his book to young adults, he does hope that young people might avoid some of the mistakes that he made growing up. His memoir is an honest, transparent account of his life, the successes and the failures. He works as an activist, writer, and public speaker focusing on civil and human rights. He works through his organization, BK Nation, to organize peaceful protests. He ultimately works to move humanity towards freedom, justice, equality, and peace.


This book is his story.

Follow-up:  Kevin Powell discusses black masculinity in popular culture with bell hooks of The New School at The conversation begins at 13:13.

The Education of Kevin Powell is available for checkout from the Charlotte Law Library. For a few weeks, it will be located with the New Books in the East Reading Room on the 5th floor and then located here.

~Betty Thomas~

Note: this blog post was published on the Charlotte School of Law Blog on December 27, 2016.


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