Keith Boykin
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Keith Boykin

New York City, New York, United States

New York City, New York, United States
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Thursday night at the Trabant University Center, esteemed political analyst Keith Boykin spoke, tackling issues of race, gender and sexual orientation in the upcoming 2008 election.

During the lecture, sponsored by HAVEN, Boykin focused on the complexities facing the current democratic primary, stressing the responsibility of all Americans to hold truth as a high priority in this time of ground-breaking politics.

Boykin, a graduate of Dartmouth and Harvard Law, worked for six political campaigns and is a regular commentator on both CNN and MSNBC. As a former aide to President Bill Clinton, Boykin became the highest-ranking, openly gay member of the Clinton administration during his time at the White House.

While emphasizing his neutrality in the ideas expressed during the speech, Boykin voiced the importance of viewing the United States as a body of equals all facing the same issues no matter how one categorizes one's self.

Andrew Clark, HAVEN treasurer and lead organizer of the event, said he chose Boykin to speak because of his long-standing accomplishments in politics and the relevance of race, gender and sexual orientation in the minds of today's college-aged voters.

"A lot of the time a speaker will come and it will be a 'preaching to the choir' situation," Clark said.

Speaking eloquently, Boykin portrayed a clear message while remaining bipartisan.

Clark said that because Boykin appeals to so many different types of people, the audience can relate to him and really listen when issues like gay marriage and "don't ask don't tell" policy are brought up.

Commenting on the current democratic nominees' beliefs regarding gay members of the armed forces, Boykin compared the current election to that of 1992.

"The biggest issue at the time was the question of gays in the military," Boykin said.

When speaking of today's election he said people assume lifting the ban of homosexuals in the military is a "watershed development."

"We talked about this as an important move forward," he said. "We forget about the fact that in 1992 every single one of the democratic candidates for president pledged to do the same thing."

Boykin said he believes America cannot simply rely on the election of new officials for progress to be made. He said the American public has to "hold their feet to the fire" in order to see real change.
He warned against the possible apathy that may arise if one of the two democratic candidates is elected in the general election.

"We must be weary of people who will point to the election of a female or black president as the ultimate response to sexism and racism in America, using their election as a reason to ignore all other attempts at progression," he said. "In fact in some cases it may make things more difficult."

Boykin said if Americans elect a black person as president, it may make it easier for some people who have no interest in pursuing the interests of African Americans, to say, "we have done everything we need to do in order to achieve racial equality, because we have a black president."

He also stressed that his goal was not to sway the audience's vote one way or the other, but rather to educate, and attendees agreed.

"I don't think the point of his speech was to sway people to vote for a certain candidate," sophomore Ricki Weitzen said. "The point was just to be active."

Senior Alex Curran, an Obama supporter, explained what she was looking for in a candidate.

"The race and gender issues are not as important for me, where sexual orientation is kind of something for me," Curran said. "As far as my vote is going to go, it has a lot to do with a well-rounded appeal. If I go and prioritize, [Obama] speaks to the most things on my list."

Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, Boykin advised the audience, "be the change you wish to see in the world."

"Laws don't make changes happen, politicians don't make changes happen," he said. "People make changes happen. This election is not just about voting for Barack Obama or John McCain, it is about a pivotal moment in our country's history and our personal commitment to make a difference to make our country better." - UD Review (University of Delaware), April 15, 2008, By Haley Marks


Calling for social change, CNBC contributor Keith Boykin reminded an audience Wednesday night of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s quote that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

The keynote speaker at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Evening Celebration in Eisenhower Auditorium, Boykin spoke to a crowd of about 150 people on standing up against what is wrong and striving to make things right despite fears of being silenced.

"We are afraid to lift our voices to people of power," Boykin said. "But people will listen if we speak loudly enough."

Boykin is the editor of the online news Web site The Daily Voice, but is better known as a BET TV host and political activist. He was asked to be the replacement keynote speaker after CNN correspondent Soledad O'Brien was deployed to Haiti to cover the aftermath of the recent earthquake.

Boykin -- who attended Harvard Law School with President Barack Obama -- told the audience of their efforts to make the school hire more diverse professors through sit-ins and protests. Boykin encouraged college students to "shake things up" like he, Obama and King did to change their communities.

"Dr. King was a radical. He spoke truth to power. He was a rebel rouser," Boykin said. "Today, there are too many people that should be speaking up, who are not."

This theme stuck out to Mercedes Davis (senior-supply chain and information systems), who attended MLK events all week.

"I like what he said about speaking truth to power," Davis said. "You handle it by being honest, being up front and being a leader."

One of Boykin's strongest points was that King did not simply want equality for African Americans, but for all people, whether they were similar to him or not.

"We don't learn from one another when everyone talks the same, when everyone looks the same, when everyone thinks the same as one another," Boykin said. "We learn through controversy."

The speech was well received by the audience members, who often broke into applause and asked Boykin during a question and answer section how they themselves could help make social changes.

"He called for us to be engaged with our community and to do the right thing," Georjanne Williams, an academic advisor in the College of Engineering said. "It was an appropriate representation of Dr. King's message."

The evening also featured music by the State College Friends School and Essence of Joy. Silent Praise, a nonprofit mime ministry also performed, using different movements to represent the religious teachings of King.

Before leaving, Boykin summed up his message to the college students who felt they were too small to make real change.

"Don't disempower yourselves. There's power in being a young person," he said. - The Daily Collegian Online - By Lauren Ingeno


Speak truth to power.
That was the central message in a keynote address to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the Eastern Michigan University Student Center this morning.
Keith Boykin, a TV host, editor and author, told the large crowd that speaking truth to power is a willingness to engage people who disagree. His speech was peppered with the civil rights leader's philosophy and President Barack Obama anecdotes.
"Dr. King would stand up for what is right, no matter who was for it or against it, and we have to do the same thing, too," Boykin said.
Boykin attended Harvard Law School with President Obama. While there, Boykin protested perceived unfair hiring practices that left Harvard Law faculty with few black male faculty members and no black females. Along with Obama and other protesters, Boykin participated in three sit-ins in the law school dean's office and attempted a takeover over of the president's office.
When Boykin, a first-year law student, called out to the law dean to talk to his group following an event, the dean ignored him - twice, Boykin said.
Then the dean began to run. Boykin, a collegiate track and field athlete, said he chased the law dean across campus with his protest sign in hand to get him to talk. A photograph of the chase appeared the next day in the Boston Globe.
"We have to be willing to stand up for what's right in our own communities," Boykin said.
"If Dr. King were alive today, he would stand up for the 50 percent of Detroit residents who are unemployed," he continued. "For the millions of Americans who don't have health insurance. For the 2 million Americans who lost their homes in the past year. For the thousands of young people dying in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Boykin - a lifelong Democrat and CNBC contributor, BET TV host and author of three books - has involved himself in progressive causes from a young age. The veteran of six political campaigns worked on his first Congressional campaign while still in high school.
After law school, instead of pursuing a law career, he quit to work on Bill Clinton's campaign - it was the first campaign in almost a decade he'd helped that actually won.
Boykin ended his speech with a Martin Luther King Jr. quote that encourages the fortitude and patience it may take to keep doing what you believe.
"If you can't fly, run. If you can't run, walk. If you can't walk, crawl. But by all means, keep moving. Keep moving. Keep moving."

More than 40 years after the civil rights leader's death, students said they connected to his message.
"I'm inspired to go stand up for what I believe in," said Jenae Taylor, who listened to the address. For Taylor, the daughter of an Ohio pastor, that means working with youth at a local church. - AnnArbor.com - Juliana Keeping, January 18, 2010


Everything went beautifully with Keith Boykin's visit. On Wednesday, we began with a dinner for 15 with students from a variety of organizations ranging from Denison's GLBT and Black Student Union to the AIDS Gobal Task Force. Keith was engaged with the students and drew them out of their shells and into lively conversation. The next day, he received a standing ovation following his "Seven Deadly Lies" talk, and again enjoyed a lunch with students during which they had a wonderful discussion about a variety of topics. All in all, we feel he educated the students about issues they were concerned with, and affected change among those who engaged with him.
Thanks for managing everything relating to getting Keith on board to visit Denison. I look forward to working with you again in the future. - First Year Experience at Denison University


I believe it was one of the best lectures we've had on campus. The crowd was very interested and attentive. The Q & A was great and the reception afterwards was wonderful. Keith was inspiring; I want to be Keith Boykin when I grow up!
Two of our newer members, who'll be helping to organize the latter lectures of our series, were so excited to hear him speak and then have conversations with him as we drove him back to Memphis--getting lost again trying to find the airport.
His words were exactly what we were looking for and more. He got fired up and so did the crowd. Keith Boykin was most welcome at Ole Miss and welcome back anytime.
A few words that might sum it all up: Amazing, Extraordinary, Fantastic, Fabulous, Exhilerating, Poetic, Insightful, Honest, Personal, Great, Magnificent, Wondrous, etc. :)
Thank you for helping to arrange all this, thank you very much.
- The University of Mississippi


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Bio

Keith Boykin is the editor of The Daily Voice online news site, a CNBC contributor, a BET TV host, and a New York Times best-selling author of three books.

Educated at Dartmouth and Harvard, Boykin attended law school with President Barack Obama and served in the White House as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton.

Boykin has been actively involved in progressive causes since he worked on his first congressional campaign while still a student in high school. He is a veteran of six political campaigns, including two presidential campaigns, and he was named one of the top instructors when he taught political science at American University in Washington.

Boykin has traveled extensively across four continents, and in 1997 President Clinton appointed him, along with Coretta Scott King and Rev. Jesse Jackson, to the US presidential trade delegation to Zimbabwe.

He was a star on the 2004 Showtime television series American Candidate and has since appeared on numerous national media programs, including Anderson Cooper 360°, The O'Reilly Factor, The Tyra Banks Show, The Montel Williams Show, Judge Hatchett, and The Tom Joyner Morning Show.

A founder and first board president of the National Black Justice Coalition, Boykin has spoken to audiences, large and small, all across the world. He delivered a landmark speech to 200,000 people at the Millennium March on Washington and he gave a stirring speech about the AIDS epidemic in front of 40,000 people in Chicago's Soldier Field in July 2006.

Each of Boykin's three books has been nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, including his most recent book, Beyond the Down Low: Sex, Lies and Denial in Black America. Boykin won the Lambda Literary Award for his second book, Respecting The Soul, while his first book, One More River to Cross, is taught in colleges and universities throughout the country.

Boykin is an associate producer of the 2007 feature film Dirty Laundry and is working on his fourth book. Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Boykin currently lives in New York City.