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Event Details

Kevin Shird: The Colored Waiting Room: Empowering the Original and the New Civil Rights Movements

Enoch Pratt Free Library, African American Department

In The Colored Waiting Room, extraordinary conversations between a confidante of Martin Luther King Jr. and a modern-day activist lead to the game-changing realizations that a second-wave civil rights movement is unfolding and that we must embrace the lessons of the past to effect lasting change.

In Montgomery, AL, one of the most vibrant and controversial hot spots of the American civil rights movement, Nelson Malden’s barbershop was where its courageous leaders, including his friend Martin Luther King Jr., gathered to organize protests and boycotts and to write the speeches that would help criminalize racial segregation and discrimination.

In The Colored Waiting Room, activist Kevin Shird heads from his hometown of Baltimore to Montgomery to meet eighty-four-year-old Nelson Malden and contextualize the significance of recent racially motivated events, and the demonstrations in Charlottesville, Ferguson, Baltimore, and around the country. The result is a groundbreaking understanding of today’s burgeoning second-wave civil rights movement and the urgent actions necessary for racial equality and change.

Shird raises the profound question of whether blacks are still in a colored waiting room, biding their time and waiting for racial equality to be the norm. He also shares compelling personal realizations on the lost connection between African American youth and their ancestors’ fight against slavery and Jim Crow laws, asking throughout this pivotal volume: How far can we go without knowing where we’ve come from?

Kevin Shird is an activist, national youth advocate, public speaker, and author. Shird began dealing drugs at the age of sixteen, and later served almost twelve years in prison for drug trafficking. Today he works with young people to help them avoid the dangers of street culture and advocates for policy changes that support their safety and development. With his friend, award-winning R&B singer Mario, Shird co-founded the Do Right Foundation, a nonprofit that from 2008-2014 provided a lifeline to children living with family members abusing drugs. In 2012, he partnered with the Medicine Abuse Project and his work there led to a collaboration with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. During the tenure of President Barack Obama, Shird worked with the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy and as part of the committee for President Obama's Clemency Project. In 2014, the mayor of Baltimore appointed Shird to the city's Heroin Treatment and Prevention Taskforce. During the protests in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray, Shird was an action consultant to then-Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's administration. Today, Shird speaks at colleges and universities nationwide on public health policy, reentry into society after incarceration, and substance abuse prevention. He lives in Baltimore.






Event Details

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 - 6:30pm


Enoch Pratt Free Library
400 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

by Dr. Radut