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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.
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.
Dr. Michael Eric Dyson is a Georgetown University sociology professor, a New York Times contributing opinion writer, and a contributing editor of The New Republic, and of ESPN's The Undefeated website. His latest book, Entertaining Race: Performing Blackness in America, is a testament to Dyson’s consistent celebration of the outsized impact of African American culture and politics on this country.