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Dr. Ibram X. Kendi

National Book Award-winning historian and #1 New York Times-bestselling author of Stamped from the Beginning and How to Be an Antiracist

  • About 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 an acclaimed historian whose powerful insights are reshaping our understanding of racism and anti-racism. Through a compelling blend of scholarship and storytelling, Dr. Kendi invites readers and audiences to engage in a meaningful dialogue about the history of oppressive systems and how they have shaped societies for generations.

    Dr. Kendi is the author of many highly acclaimed books including Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction, making him the youngest ever winner of that award. Stamped from the Beginning is a monumental work that traces the development and dissemination of racist ideologies throughout American history. The book offers a comprehensive understanding of the complex interplay between racist ideas, power dynamics, and resistance movements. The book was made into a Netflix documentary that was shortlisted for an Academy Award.

    Dr. Kendi also authored the #1 New York Times bestsellers How to Be an Antiracist, Antiracist Baby, and Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, co-authored by Jason Reynolds. Alongside the award-winning historian Dr. Keisha N. Blain, Dr. Kendi edited Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019. Four Hundred Souls is a choral history of African Americans covering four hundred years in the voices of ninety writers. His latest monograph, How to Raise an Antiracist, combines vital research with a compelling personal narrative of his own journey as a parent. He created a work that is as research-based as it is relatable to real-world experience.

    In 2021, Dr. Kendi was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, popularly known as the ‘Genius Grant.’ He is also contributing writer at The Atlantic and a CBS News racial justice contributor. Dr. Kendi has published numerous essays in periodicals, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, The Huffington Post, and The Root. The Black Campus Movement, his first book on Black student activism on college campuses in the late 1960s and early 1970s, won the W.E.B. Du Bois Book Prize.

    He has received research fellowships, grants, and visiting appointments from a variety of universities, foundations, professional associations, and libraries, including the American Historical Association, Library of Congress, National Academy of Education, Lyndon B. Johnson Library & Museum, Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, Brown University, Princeton University, Duke University, University of Chicago, and UCLA.

    Recently, Dr. Kendi was elected to the prestigious Society of American Historians and named a 2021 Young Global Leader, the World Economic Forum’s annual class of the most promising leaders around the globe under the age of 40.

    Visit Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s Company Reads page to learn how he helps corporations build an antiracist world.

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    Ibram Kendi

  • Speaking Topics

    Through the Lens of History: An Examination of Racist Ideas in America

    In 2016, historian Dr. Ibram X. Kendi published his groundbreaking book Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. In this insightful talk, Dr. Kendi walks audiences through the compelling historical analysis laid out in his book. Drawing on meticulous research and powerful storytelling, Dr. Kendi examines the evolution of racist ideas from their origins in 15th century Portugal, their spread around Western Europe, their development in colonial America and ultimately the United States. He traces their origins, perpetuation, and impact on society. He weaves in, as tour guides, the stories of key American figures such as Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, WEB DuBois, and Angela Davis. Dr. Kendi challenges audiences to confront the complex history of racism in America and to actively engage in the work of creating a more just and equitable future.

    Understanding the Past for an Inclusive and Equitable Future

    Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) work has become a central pillar for organizational success and societal progress. However, DEI work is facing a backlash, driven in part by a lack of understanding about what these strategies can and cannot achieve. In this insightful lecture based on expansive research, historian Dr. Ibram X. Kendi talks to audiences about why a successful DEI strategy demands a deep understanding of the historical roots of inequity and injustice and the structures that perpetuate it. Drawing on historical narratives and insights, Dr. Kendi illuminates the interconnectedness of past injustices with present-day disparities.

    An essential session for leaders, HR professionals, educators, and anyone committed to creating more equitable and inclusive environments, Dr. Kendi will discuss:

    Historical Context: By exploring key historical events, policies, and cultural attitudes, participants will develop a nuanced understanding of how inequity and injustice has been ingrained into societal structures over time.

    Systemic Awareness: Dr. Kendi will unpack the power dynamics that continue to shape our institutions and communities, highlighting the ways in which historical injustices still manifest today.

    Empathetic Perspective: Through reflection exercises, attendees will be encouraged to think about their own roles in perpetuating or challenging inequity, fostering a deeper sense of personal responsibility and commitment to change.

    Strategic Insights: Practical strategies and tools for incorporating historical analysis into DEI initiatives will be shared, empowering organizations to develop more holistic and effective approaches to fostering equity and inclusion.

    How To Be An Antiracist

    When the first Black president headed into the White House, Americans were imagining their nation as colorblind and went so far as to call it post-racial. After the arrival of Donald Trump and the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, many people began to awaken and see racism for the first time. With opened minds, people are actively trying to not only understand racism, but confront it, but eliminate it. In this deeply personal and empowering lecture, Dr. Kendi shifts the discussion from how not to be racist, to how to be an antiracist. He shares his own internalized racist ideas and how he overcame them. He provides direction to people and institutions who want more than just band-aid programs, but actual antiracist action that builds an antiracist America.

  • Video

  • Praise for Ibram X. Kendi

    Praise for Four Hundred Souls

    From journalist Hannah P. Jones on Jamestown’s first slaves to historian Annette Gordon-Reed’s portrait of Sally Hemings to the seductive cadences of poets Jericho Brown and Patricia Smith, Four Hundred Souls weaves a tapestry of unspeakable suffering and unexpected transcendence.

    O: The Oprah Magazine

    A vital addition to [the] curriculum on race in America . . . a gateway to the solo works of all the voices in Kendi and Blain’s impressive choir.

    The Washington Post

    Praise for Stamped

    "Sheer brilliance....An empowering, transformative read. Bravo."

    Jewell Parker Rhodes, New York Times bestselling author of Ghost Boys

    An amazingly timely and stunningly accessible manifesto for young people....At times funny, at times somber but always packed with relevant information that is at once thoughtful and spot-on, Stamped is the book I wish I had as a young person and am so grateful my own children have now.

    Jacqueline Woodson, bestselling and National Book Award-winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming

    Praise for How to Be an Antiracist

    Kendi dissects why in a society where so few people consider themselves to be racist the divisions and inequalities of racism remain so prevalent. How to Be an Antiracist punctures the myths of a post-racial America, examining what racism really is—and what we should do about it.


    Ibram X. Kendi’s new book, How to Be an Antiracist, couldn’t come at a better time. . . . Kendi has gifted us with a book that is not only an essential instruction manual but also a memoir of the author’s own path from anti-black racism to anti-white racism and, finally, to antiracism. . . . How to Be an Antiracist gives us a clear and compelling way to approach, as Kendi puts it in his introduction, ‘the basic struggle we’re all in, the struggle to be fully human and to see that others are fully human.’


    Ibram Kendi is today’s visionary in the enduring struggle for racial justice. In this personal and revelatory new work, he yet again holds up a transformative lens, challenging both mainstream and antiracist orthodoxy. He illuminates the foundations of racism in revolutionary new ways, and I am consistently challenged and inspired by his analysis. How to Be an Antiracist offers us a necessary and critical way forward.

    Robin DiAngelo, New York Times bestselling author of White Fragility

    Ibram Kendi’s work, through both his books and the Antiracist Research and Policy Center, is vital in today’s sociopolitical climate. As a society, we need to start treating antiracism as action, not emotion—and Kendi is helping us do that.

    Ijeoma Oluo, author of So You Want to Talk About Race

    Ibrahim Kendi uses his own life journey to show us why becoming an antiracist is as essential as it is difficult. Equal parts memoir, history, and social commentary, this book is honest, brave, and most of all liberating.

    James Forman, Jr., Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Locking Up Our Own

    A boldly articulated, historically informed explanation of what exactly racist ideas and thinking are . . . [Kendi’s] prose is thoughtful, sincere, and polished. This powerful book will spark many conversations.

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

    A combination of memoir and extension of [Kendi’s] towering Stamped from the Beginning . . . Never wavering . . . Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth. . . . This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory. . . . Essential.

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

    In this sharp blend of social commentary and memoir . . . Kendi is ready to spread his message, his stories serving as a springboard for potent explorations of race, gender, colorism, and more. . . . With Stamped From the Beginning, Kendi proved himself a first-rate historian. Here, his willingness to turn the lens on himself marks him as a courageous activist, leading the way to a more equitable society.

    Library Journal (starred review)

    Praise for Stamped from the Beginning

    This heavily researched yet easily readable volume explores the roots and the effects of racism in America. The narrative smoothly weaves throughout history, culminating in the declaration that as much as we’d like it to be, America today is nowhere near the “postracial” country that the media declared following the election of Barack Obama in 2008. The hope here is that by studying and remembering the lessons of history, we may be able to move forward to an equitable society.


    An intricate look at the history of race in the U.S., arguing that many well-meaning American progressives inadvertently operate on belief systems tinged with a racist heritage.


    A deep (and often disturbing) chronicling of how anti-black thinking has entrenched itself in the fabric of American society.

    The Atlantic

    In this tour de force, Kendi explores the history of racist ideas—and their connection with racist practices—across American history. Racism is the enduring scar on the American consciousness. In this ambitious, magisterial book, Kendi reveals just how deep that scar cuts and why it endures, its barely subcutaneous pain still able to flare.

    Kirkus (starred review)
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