With the US and UK’s Black History Month (BHM) fast approaching, now is the time to book a powerful speaker for your inclusion-themed event. With their emotive accounts of prejudice and knowledge of Black history, these speakers have a resounding impact on attendees.

With over 92,000 racist incidents recorded by the police in 2020-22, Black History Month is a vital event for businesses to recognise. In solidarity with their Black employees, educational events inform the wider workplace of pinnacle moments in Black history.

Top Speakers for Black History Month

    Alyesha Wise-Hernandez

    Alyesha Wise is an award-winning, published poet, educator & speaker from Camden, N.J. Currently residing in LA, she is the co-founder of Spoken Literature Art Movement and the Director of Program Development for Street Poets, Inc., an organization mostly serving juvenile injustice-involved youth with mentorship and arts programming. Alyesha has been featured on platforms and in publications such as OWN TV, BET, LA Times, Bustle, Afropunk, PBS, Buzzfeed and more. Other collaborators include the ACLU, The Shabazz Center, The Nantucket Project, Brave New Films and the Google Interstellar Project. Ron Howard once wrote about Alyesha’s work, “Very Powerful.”

    Examples of previous topic sessions:

      ▪ Feminism/women’s Rights
      ▪ Community/unity
      ▪ Youth Empowerment: Poems Of Various Topics, Often Written From My
      Perspective As An Educator/community Leader
      ▪ Self Love/self-empowerment/encouragement
      ▪ Black Lives/racial Justice
      ▪ Environment/food Justice: Poems About The Planet, Connection To Nature
      And/or The Right To Equal Access To Food And Sustenance
      ▪ Gentrification
      ▪ Love/breakup/romance

    Raven Solomon

    RAVEN SOLOMON is a global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion thought leader and nationally recognized keynote speaker who helps organizations get future-ready by understanding generations, racial equity, and their intersection. Raven’s mission is simple– to solve for racial inequity by breaking down generational and racial barriers in the workplace, replacing them with empathy and synergy that fosters productive working relationships, drives business results, and prepares organizations to compete in the not-so-distant future.

    She is the author of the 2019 release Leading Your Parents: 25 Rules to Effective Multigenerational Leadership for Millennials and Gen Z, where she shares leadership principles and practical advice for young professionals seeking to transition into leadership positions in today’s diverse workplace, and the founder of the Charlotte-based Center for Next Generation Leadership and Professional Development, a startup focused on providing soft skill development to the leaders of tomorrow. In her spare time, Raven consults with Franklin Covey, the world leader in leadership development, in the area of unconscious bias and is the host of The Generational View Podcast.

    Raven has helped tens of thousands, from podiums around the world, close the gaps inside of dozens of industry-leading companies, and create sustainable cultural change. She’s also consulted with household brands in the areas of generational diversity & inclusion and early talent development and retention. As the valedictorian of her college graduating class and one of the youngest-ever executives in the Fortune 50 company with which she spent nearly a decade, she has always shown that her approach to leading and influencing people yields results.

    Examples of previous topic sessions:

      ▪ Generations, Racial Equity, and The Intersection

    Deanna Singh

    Deanna Singh wants to live in a world where marginalized communities have power.

    As an expert social entrepreneur, she is obsessed with making the world a better place, and she will build or break systems to create positive change. While tackling complex social challenges, Deanna gives audiences the tools and courage to imagine, activate, and impact the world as agents of change. Deanna is described as a trailblazer and dynamic speaker who is at the forefront of social change.

    She is an award-winning author, educator, business leader, and social justice champion who speaks to over 50,000 people annually!

    Deanna has spent more than two decades researching, designing, and building asset-based solutions to complex social challenges while raising awareness for underserved populations. She is the Founder and Chief Change Agent of Flying
    Elephant, an umbrella organization for four social ventures, all of which are dedicated to shifting power to marginalized communities.

    Through Uplifting Impact, she empowers businesses and individuals to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in
    their workplaces by offering consulting, coaching, and training – including a bi-annual Virtual Summit that draws more than 500 attendees. Delivering keynotes and training to entrepreneurs and teams who want to align their work to their purpose, Deanna’s Purposeful Hustle brand teaches the method and the mission by the book of the same name, which has sold more than 10,000 copies. Story to Tell Books, a children’s book imprint, features positive narrative and visual images of children of color, including three books authored by Deanna. Lastly, Birth Coach Milwaukee provides doula services to birthing people who otherwise could not afford it.

    Deanna’s current projects include serving as lead instructor for the Professional Certificate in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion offered through University of Wisconsin’s Center for Professional and Executive Development and publishing two new books:
    Actions Speak Louder (Penguin Random House; released Spring 2022) and a new book for American Girl (release June 2021).

    Examples of previous topics:

      • Key Takeaways:

      ◦ How to improve your leadership competency in the diversity, equity, and
      inclusion space
      ◦ How to perform a critical self-assessment
      ◦ Practical steps for how you can foster a more inclusive environment

      • Key Takeaways:

      ◦ Practical guidance for confronting barriers of prejudice,
      misinformation, and bias about specific aspects of personal and social
      ◦ Anecdotes and tips about how adults and children can respect each
      other, themselves, and all people

      • Key Takeaways:

      ◦ Gain buy-in from stakeholders at all levels of your company for DEI
      ◦ Design and implement inclusive policies, from writing job
      advertisements and interviewing to conducting performance reviews
      ◦ Create a retention plan that considers and prioritizes the needs of
      underrepresented employees
      ◦ Train your DEI trainers-who are too often thrust into their roles with
      little instruction or clarity – to audit your “racial climate” and hold you
      accountable in the future

    Cheryl Wills

    Cheryl Wills is a veteran anchorforSpectrumNewsNYl-she joined the cable network during its launch in 1992. She is the primetime anchor for NY1 Live at Ten and she’s also the host of the public affairs talk show In Focus with Cheryl Wills. In 2018, Cheryl became the first African-American reporter in NY1’s history to win an Emmy Award.

    The award-winning journalist is the author of three books about her great-great-great grandfather Sandy Wills who fought in The Civil War: “Die Free: A Heroic Family Tale”, an illustrated children’s book “The Emancipation of Grandpa Sandy Wills” and a YA book “Emancipated:My Family’s Fight/or Freedom.” Cheryl has been invited to do
    readings of her Emancipation Series to tens of thousands of students across the country.

    She is currently working on a groundbreaking book called “25 Women Who Changed Gospel”. Cheryl has interviewed some of the most powerful people in the world including The first woman president of Africa: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia. Cheryl’s groundbreaking report earned her a prestigious medal from the United Nations Correspondents Association. She also scored an exclusive interview with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

    Cheryl’s personal favorite was going one-on-one with the late great writer and activist Maya Angelou.

    Cheryl Wills was the first journalist invited to address the General Assembly of The United Nations about the impact of slavery on her family during the UN’s International Remembrance of Victims of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Cheryl takes great pride in being the Founder and Commander of The New York State Chapter of the Sons & Daughters of the United States Colored Troops, a national organization based in Washington D.C. She enjoys teaching students about the contributions of the 200,000 black soldiers who fought valiantly during The Civil War Cheryl Wills is a graduate of The Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, with a major in Broadcast Journalism. She received an Honorary Doctorate from New York College of Health Professions in May of 2005

    Examples of previous sessions:

    Juneteenth:The Descendant of a Civil War Soldier explains why Juneteenth
    Matters with a riveting powerpoint presentation
    Genealogy: How uncovering one’s past – empowers your future
    Career Empowerment: How to carve your own path in industry
    She Leads: Winning Formulas for Women of Color to Win

    Caprice Jones

    As a child growing up on the south side of Chicago; Caprice stood out as one who had high potential. By six years old he had been offered a scholarship to attend the University Of Chicago Lab school. He also had delivered his first Dr. King I Have A Dream Speech. But there also was a time of turmoil in Caprice’s early childhood that would plague him for decades. He soon thrust into the fast lanes of urban crime that spiraled him downward into two decades of criminal institutions. Caprice would spend 15 years of his life in prison. But it would there where he discovered a lot about not only himself but ultimately whom he was created to truly be. Caprice discovered a fondness for writing poetry, which turned into 3 spoken word books.

    It would be during his incarceration that he would begin to see the importance of education and also the priority of manhood. He gained knowledge of God in the personal relationship aspect and at that time he would gain knowledge of his true purpose. Caprice was released from prison and began to seek to be the change he wanted to see in Chicago – so he worked as a mentor for his first two years out: he mentored ex- offenders during a summer job program. Caprice would go on to form a grass-roots movement in Chicago called “I Must Be the Change I Seek to See In

    Soon after, Caprice along with his wife and two children at the time sought the opportunity of a greater life in Iowa – So they moved to Peosta, Iowa. Quickly, Caprice was hired to work as the head Custodian at St. Luke’s UMC. While working at St. Luke’s, Caprice received a vision to start a program named “Dubuque Fountain of Youth Program”. In his vision he sees this program as being a conduit of generational social economic progressiveness in the city of Dubuque.

    Caprice holds an Associates in Liberal Studies from Lakeland College, as well as thousands of hours in substance abuse training through Cornell Intervention. Caprice Jones stands today as a man that embodies the hope that many people seek, that change is possible.

    Examples of previous sessions:

      • Breaking the cycle of generational poverty

        ( A complex issue requires an introspective approach to not only identify
        the problems that exist yet ultimately the discovery of solutions through
        an inflection process.)

      • The Psychological impact of mass incarceration

        Caprice explains the hidden truths of what an incarcerated person experiences from their arrival to their return to society. He breaks down the myth of only Ill one may face when released/ institutionalized.

      • Dealing with Unresolved Trauma
      • Expanding horizons: How macro social work can transform communities on a large scale ( Caprice describes an innovative approach towards extracting the best out of human beings by step by step conversations towards discovering how we as humans individually learn how to embrace humanity collectively!)

    Dr. Akilah Cadet

    Dr. Akilah Cadet is the Founder and CEO of Change Cadet, a change management and organizational development consulting firm that offers a broad array of services including executive coaching, strategic planning, problem solving, and facilitation in support of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the workplace.

    Dr. Cadet has 15+ years in management and building successful projects, teams, and leaders in the public and private sectors. She is a 2021 Forbes Next 1000 Honoree, lululemon Ambassador, and honored as one of Staffing Industry Analysts’ (SIA) 2021 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Influencers. Forbes and the Wall Street Journal Diversity and Business Newsletter have featured her work. She has spent an extensive part of her career designing training, coaching executives, and informing systematic change to improve the workforce experience for large organizations. She
    lives in Oakland, CA, literally has all the degrees, celebrates her disability, has an incredible shoe game, and is a proud Beyoncé advocate.

    Examples of previous sessions:

      • Understanding privilege and foundational concepts related to diversity,
      equity, inclusion, and belonging, and anti-racism
      • How to become an accomplice (and understanding the difference between
      being an ally and an accomplice)
      • Managing with inclusion
      • Understanding privilege as a leader and building an inclusive, anti-racist
      • Striving for harmony, not balance, at work
      • Reconnecting to joy for BIPOC
      • Empowering women of color in the workplace
      • Empowering inclusive leaders
      • Becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable
      • Organizational development & change management
      • Disability & invisible/chronic illness awareness and advocacy
      • Dismantling white supremacy

    Areva Martin

    Passionate, outspoken and insightful, AREVA MARTIN is one of the country’s leading influencers shaping media today. An award-winning civil rights attorney, Areva is a producer, content creator, commentator and talk show host, she is an audience favorite on networks including CNN, HLN and CBS and on a long list of shows from Dr. Phil and The Doctors to Face the Truth and Good Morning America. Areva has produced over 350 episodes of her web-based current affairs talk show, The Special Report with Areva Martin and her opinion-based news show Areva Martin Out Loud on KBLA Talk Radio.

    Areva’s sharp commentary on the most pressing issues of the moment is highly sought after, and she is a regular contributor to publications including Ebony, CNN.com and Thrive Global. Her opinion pieces on racial and gender equity, leadership, success principles, mentorship and disability rights are read regularly by millions. She has been featured in Power, Redbook, Essence, Gladys, Sheen, Gazelle and CEO Mom. Magazines.

    A USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Areva’s books include, The Everyday Advocate: Standing Up for Your Child with Autism; Make It Rain: How to Use the Media to Revolutionize Your Business and Brand; and Awakening: Ladies, Leadership and the Lies We’ve Been Told. Her fifth book on race and the Black/white wealth gap comes out in the Fall of 2023. The book is a part of a larger TV documentary series, which Areva will hosts and co-produce.

    Areva is a successful, serial entrepreneur. She is the founder and CEO of Martin & Martin, LLP, one of Los Angeles’ premier Black, female-owned law firms, Special Needs Network, one of the nation’s leading autism and social justice organizations and Butterflly Health, a first-of-its kind mental health digital platform for underserved Medicaid populations.

    A native of St. Louis and graduate of Rosati-Kain High, Areva graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of Chicago and Cum Laude from Harvard Law School. Areva, her husband and
    three children, two of which are in law school, live in Los Angeles.

    Examples of previous sessions:

      • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
      • Workplace Issues
      • Women in Leadership
      • Social Justice, Civil Rights and Activism
      • Nonprofit Stewardship
      • Mentoring
      • Entrepreneurship

    John Watkis

    John Watkis is an award-winning performer, voiceover artist, high-stakes performance coach, and professional speaker. He turns every event into an entertainment experience that inspires audiences to ask for an encore.

    He is the author of Speaking Notes: The Eight Essential Elements to Make Your Speech Music to Their Ears, a salsa dancing champion, and the first Canadian-born actor to play Mufasa onstage in the Disney musical, The Lion

    In addition to more than two decades of performing and delivering keynote speeches and workshops for clients in six countries and on three continents, he has written speeches for corporations, government officials, non-profits, professional speakers, and hall-of-fame athletes.

    Whether your event is an anniversary celebration, awards ceremony, or annual conference, John will make you look like a star when he stands in the spotlight and takes center stage.

    Examples of previous sessions:

    Lessons in the Circle of Life

      Is there more to life?
      Based on his experiences in the award winning Disney musical production, The Lion
      King, John Watkis explores the notion that there is more to life than you’re experiencing
      now, and he provides timely and practical insights to help you understand what that
      means in your life.

    Lessons in the Circle of Life covers key areas such as:

      • How to build resilience so you can overcome past failures and move toward
      • Secrets to prevent burnout
      • The key to becoming a person of influence
      • How to uncover your true potential and purpose.

    Kimberlee Yolanda Williams

    Hailing from the nation’s capital with huge hair, a million watt smile, and contagious laughter, Kimberlee Yolanda Williams has had a heart for the perceived underdog for as long as she can remember. From her earliest years, Kimberlee’s experiences unfolded in communities filled with diversity of every kind, where gatherings around topics of equity and inclusion were explored with courageous authenticity. She grew up thinking engaging across differences was something everyone wanted to do and knew how to do. So why didn’t they do it?

    As an educator, DEI administrator, consultant, workshop leader, speaker, and certified life and health coach, her adult years brought her to a variety of US cities.

    With each new context she increasingly understood what held people back from crossing social divisions. Kimberlee found herself able to consciously place herself in the center of these divisions, in particular racial dynamics, and support people across the racial spectrum in stepping closer to one another.

    Kimberlee is first and foremost a humanist, a deep believer in what is possible when humanity is centered. Her mix of authenticity and raw truth gives permission for those around her to choose progress over perfection and bring their full selves into the room. She is known for finding humor and challenge at just the right moments, and like the best of coaches, leaning in and pushing audiences just enough to believe in the potential she sees. Her approach of connection and compassion is what makes a consultation feel like a conversation with your best friend, a workshop feel like a workout with your favorite trainer, and her presentations feel like a present from your closest confidant.

    Kimberlee received a B.A. in Foreign Language Education from the University of Maryland (go Terps!), as well as an M.S. in education from Dominican University.

    She currently lives in Seattle with her partner where they refuel by being in community (with other folks of color), reading and reading some more, and relaxing near any body of water. In addition to all of the above, Kimberlee is a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, a cousin, an aunt, a niece, a dancer, an avid learner of languages (five to date), a free spirit, an empath, and now a writer.

    Examples of previous sessions:

      • Canceling the Microaggression: 45-90 minutes
      • Different approach, different results-Radical Inclusion & Belonging in the
      Workplace: 45-90 minutes
      • Workshop-Dear White Woman, Please Come Home: 90 minutes-4 hours
      • Workshop-Bypassing Bias by Taking Your Inventory: 90 minutes-4 hours
      • An Open Conversation on Race: 90 minutes-4 hours
      • Talking to your children about race: 90 minutes-4 hours
      • Using Your Dominant Identity to Your Advantage: How to support the
      marginalized folks in your life and community: 90 minutes-full day
      • Navigating Conflict in Cross-Racial Conversations-90 minutes-4 hours
      • White teachers and parents teaching and raising kids of color,what you must
      know, must hear, must see and must do-90 minutes-full day

    Dena Simmons

    Dr. Dena Simmons is the founder of LiberatED, a liberatory approach to social and emotional learning (SEL) that centers radical love, healing, and justice. She is also the inaugural scholar-in-residence at the Institute for Racial Justice at Loyola University of Chicago. She is the former Assistant Director of Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, where she supported schools to use the power of emotions to create a more compassionate and just society. Prior to her work at the Center, Dr. Simmons served as an educator, teacher educator, diversity facilitator, and curriculum developer.

    She has been a leading voice on teacher education and has written and spoken across the country about social and racial justice pedagogy, diversity, emotional intelligence, and bullying in K-12 school settings, including the White House, the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit, the United Nations, two TEDx talks, and a TED talk on Broadway. Dr. Simmons has been profiled in Education Week, the Huffington Post, NPR, the AOL/PBS project, MAKERS: Women Who Make America, and a Beacon Press Book, Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists. Dr. Simmons is a recipient of a Harry S. Truman Scholarship, a J. William Fulbright Fellowship, an Education Pioneers Fellowship, a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship, a Phillips Exeter Academy Dissertation Fellowship, a Hedgebrook Writing Residency, and an Arthur Vining Davis Aspen Fellowship among others.

    She earned her doctorate degree from Teachers College, Columbia University, where she recently served as faculty in the Summer Principals Academy. Dr. Simmons’ research interests include teacher preparedness to address bullying in
    the K-12 school setting, culturally responsive pedagogy, and the intersection of equity and social and emotional learning (SEL) interventions—all in an effort to ensure and foster justice and safe spaces for all. She is the author of the forthcoming book, White Rules for Black People (St. Martin’s Press)

    Examples of previous sessions:

      • Collective Care, Healing, and Equity Responsive Practices when the World
      Feels Heavy
      • From Surviving to Thriving: Creating Equitable Environments Through
      Emotional Intelligence and Culturally Relevant Practices
      • Engaging in LiberatED Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) for Racial Justice
      and Healing

Want to explore further? Find our complete list of speakers on our website. If you’re planning an upcoming event, please reach out anytime – we are happy to jump on a call to help you craft the perfect event.