DeRay Mckesson Headshot
Report a problem with this profile
[email protected]

DeRay Mckesson        

Civil Rights Activist and Former School Administrator; Member of the Black Lives Matter Movement

DeRay Mckesson is an organizer, activist, and educator focused primarily on issues of innovation, equity and justice. Born and raised in Baltimore, he graduated from Bowdoin College and has advocated for issues related to children, youth, and families for over 15 years.

DeRay has served as an educator, student leader, and founding director of an after-school/out-of-school program. Spurred by the death of Mike Brown and the subsequent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, DeRay has become a leading voice in the effort to confront the systems and structures that lead to the mass incarceration and police killings of black and other minority populations.

In April 2015, Mckesson and fellow activists Johnetta Elzie, Samuel Sinyangwe, and Brittany Packnett launched "Mapping Police Violence", which collected data on people killed by police during 2014. In August 2015, the same group launched Campaign Zero, a ten-point policy plan for police reform. Key points included the decriminalization of trespassing, marijuana possession, loitering, public disturbance, and consuming alcohol in public as these crimes do not threaten public safety, but are often used to target African Americans. Mckesson and Elzie were awarded the Howard Zinn Freedom to Write Award in 2015 for their activism. In late 2015, he was a guest lecturer at Yale Divinity School.

In February 2016, Mckesson announced his candidacy for Mayor of Baltimore just before the filing deadline. He placed 6th in the city's Democratic primary in April, with 2.5% of the vote. In June 2016, he was named as interim chief human capital officer of the Baltimore City Public School System.

On July 9, 2016, in the aftermath of the shooting of Alton Sterling, Mckesson took part in a protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. While live streaming, he was arrested. He was released the next day after being charged with obstruction of a roadway, and charges were later dropped.On July 13, he and other Black Lives Matter activists, along with police officials, politicians, and other activists, met with President Obama at the White House to discuss relations between black communities and law enforcement officials.

Speech Topics

“The Politics of Liberation”

The Other Side of Freedom


Stephen Colbert's Interview With DeRay McKesson Was Late Night ...

But as Colbert's Monday night interview with civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson, proved, he deserves a bigger audience because he's doing something ...


Deray Mckesson is running for mayor of Baltimore after spending nearly a year as a full-time activist. He has become a well-known figure through his involvement in protests in Ferguson and Baltimore after the deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray. Here, he is seen in St. Louis, Missouri on August 7.

Related Speakers View all

More like DeRay