Will Jawando at Harvard Book Store

presenting

My Seven Black Fathers:
A Young Activist's Memoir of Race, Family,
and the Mentors Who Made Him Whole

in conversation with IBRAM X. KENDI

Date

May
10
Tuesday
May 10, 2022
7:00 PM ET

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes attorney, activist, and community leader WILL JAWANDO for a discussion of his new book My Seven Black Fathers : A Young Activist's Memoir of Race, Family, and the Mentors Who Made Him Whole. He will be joined in conversation by the IBRAM X. KENDI—Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University and author of How to Be an Antiracist.

A Return to In-Person Events

Harvard Book Store is excited to re-introduce in-person programming this season, beginning this March. To ensure the safety and comfort of everyone in attendance, the following Covid-19 safety protocols will be in place at all of our Harvard Book Store events until further notice:

  • Face coverings are required of all staff and attendees when inside the store. Masks must snugly cover nose and mouth.

About My Seven Black Fathers

Will Jawando tells a deeply affirmative story of hope and respect for men of color at a time when Black men are routinely stigmatized. As a boy growing up outside DC, Will, who went by his Nigerian name, Yemi, was shunted from school to school, never quite fitting in. He was a Black kid with a divorced white mother, a frayed relationship with his biological father, and teachers who scolded him for being disruptive in class and on the playground. Eventually, he became close to Kalfani, a kid he looked up to on the basketball court. Years after he got the call telling him that Kalfani was dead, another sickening casualty of gun violence, Will looks back on the relationships with an extraordinary series of mentors that enabled him to thrive.

Among them were Mr. Williams, the rare Black male grade school teacher, who found a way to bolster Will’s self-esteem when he discovered he was being bullied; Jay Fletcher, the openly gay colleague of his mother who got him off junk food and took him to his first play; Mr. Holmes, the high school coach and chorus director who saw him through a crushing disappointment; Deen Sanwoola, the businessman who helped him bridge the gap between his American upbringing and his Nigerian heritage, eventually leading to a dramatic reconciliation with his biological father; and President Barack Obama, who made Will his associate director of public engagement at the White House―and who invited him to play basketball on more than one occasion. Without the influence of these men, Will knows he would not be who he is today: a civil rights and education policy attorney, a civic leader, a husband, and a father.

Drawing on Will’s inspiring personal story and involvement in My Brother’s Keeper, President Obama’s national initiative to address persistent opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color, My Seven Black Fathers offers a transformative way for Black men to shape the next generation.

Praise for My Seven Black Fathers

"Jawando has written an enlightening, heartfelt memoir that will appeal to readers looking for a ‘different’ all-American story; one that shows the power of community to uplift Black men in the United States." ―Leah K. Huey, Library Journal (starred review)

"Will Jawando's account of mentorship, service, and healing lays waste to the racist stereotype of the absent Black father. By arguing that Black fathers are not just found in individual families, but are indeed the treasure of entire Black communities, Will makes the case for a bold idea: that Black men can counter racist ideas and policies by virtue of their presence in the lives of Black boys and young men. This is a story we need to hear." ―Ibram X. Kendi, New York Times bestselling author of How to be an Antiracist

"A passionate 'love letter to Black men' . . . Candid and uplifting . . . This book is a clarion call to families and communities to provide crucial support to young people, particularly young Black men." ―Andrienne Cruz, Booklist (starred review)

Ibram X. Kendi
Ibram X. Kendi

Ibram X. Kendi

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, and the founding director of the BU Center for Antiracist Research. He is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and a CBS News racial justice contributor.

Photo Credit: Stephen Voss

Will Jawando
Will Jawando

Will Jawando

Will Jawando is an attorney, an activist, a community leader, and a councilmember in Montgomery County, Maryland, a diverse community of more than one million residents. Called “the progressive leader we need” by the late congressman John Lewis, Jawando has worked with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Sherrod Brown, and President Barack Obama. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post and The Root and on BET.com, and his work has been featured in The New York Times and New York magazine and on NPR, NBC News, and MTV. He regularly appears on CNN, MSNBC and other media outlets.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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