DeRay McKesson is an activist, organizer, and educator who has dedicated his life to fighting against injustice and building political power for young people — two goals central to Rock the Vote’s mission.. Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, he graduated from Bowdoin College and holds an honorary doctorate from The New School. DeRay has advocated for issues related to children, youth, and families since he was a teen. As a national leader in the Black Lives Matter Movement and the co-founder of Campaign Zero and OurStates.org, DeRay has worked to connect individuals with knowledge and tools, and provide citizens and policy makers with commonsense policies to ensure equity. Spurred by the death of Mike Brown and the subsequent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, DeRay has become a key voice in the effort to confront the systems and structures that have led to the mass incarceration and police killings of black and other minority populations. He is also the host of Pod Save The People, a weekly podcast focused on activism and social justice. DeRay was named as one of the World’s Greatest Leaders by Fortune Magazine in 2015 and as one of the 30 Most Important People On The Internet by Time Magazine in 2016.
He previously taught 6th grade math in New York City as a Teach For America Corps Member, worked for the Harlem Children’s Zone and TNTP and opened an academic enrichment center in West Baltimore. He has also worked with Baltimore City Public Schools and Minneapolis Public Schools leading systemic human capital change.
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