“Today I held history in my hands! Your legacy and passion for creating change is an inspiration.” Kenneth B. Morris, Jr. is descended from two of the most important names in American history: he is the great-great-great grandson of Frederick Douglass and the great-great grandson of Booker T. Washington. His life until the year 2007 could be described as distinguished yet decisively disengaged from his lineage until Providence called. Ken’s career and life path are driven by a mission to end human trafficking and all forms of servitude with a clear focus
“Today I held history in my hands! Your legacy and passion for creating change is an inspiration.”
Kenneth B. Morris, Jr. is descended from two of the most important names in American history: he is the great-great-great grandson of Frederick Douglass and the great-great grandson of Booker T. Washington. His life until the year 2007 could be described as distinguished yet decisively disengaged from his lineage until Providence called.
Ken’s career and life path are driven by a mission to end human trafficking and all forms of servitude with a clear focus on his organization’s mission To Advance Freedom through Knowledge and Strategic Action. He could not have predicted that one day he would so fully embrace and be defined by the characteristics that so closely defined his famous ancestors.
Ken’s extraordinary lineage flows through the maternal side of his family by way of the union of his grandmother, Nettie Hancock Washington (granddaughter of Booker T. Washington), and his grandfather, Dr. Frederick Douglass III (great grandson of Frederick Douglass). When Ken’s mother, Nettie Washington Douglass, was born she was the first to unite the bloodlines. Ken is the first male to do so.
Prior to becoming a Social Entrepreneur, Ken and his business partner managed a successful marketing and entertainment firm. C&A Marketing became a leader in the field of corporate meetings and incentive travel developing customized marketing programs for major cruise lines and resort hotels. Some of the skills learned during his corporate career have also served Ken well in Civil Society.
Driven by what he believes deeply to be a calling, Ken is an inspirational and powerful public speaker. His dynamic public appearances have included; keynote addresses for corporate America, OSCE: Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, charitable organizations, speeches for government agencies and, of course, a multitude of interactive conversations with large groups of students in every corner of the country.
Ken is now the President of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI), a public charity that endeavors to create a modern Abolitionist Movement in schools all over the country through the vehicle of Service-Learning curricula called History, Human Rights and the Power of One. FDFI operates on the belief that young people play critical roles on both sides of the Contemporary Slavery spectrum: at one end, they are the most vulnerable to becoming its victims and, at the other, the most qualified to lead its demise.
Some of the work done by Ken and the foundation since 2008 include: reaching approximately 60,000 middle and high school students through the Frederick Douglass Dialogues Tour; appearing on television, radio and in newspaper articles (including CNN, Newsweek Video, PBS, NPR, the Tavis Smiley Show, the Bev Smith Show, the Washington Post, USA Today and The CBS Evening News), creating the Abolition Day Project allowing students to bring awareness of human trafficking to millions of people all over the United States and initiating HR 929, the House Resolution to recognize Abolition Day internationally as well as the work of Frederick Douglass and FDFI toward ending slavery.
In addition, Ken has given lectures about his family history at universities all over the country including Columbia University, Morehouse College, Kennesaw State, UNLV, Tuskegee University, Virginia Tech, California University of Pennsylvania and Yale University. Ken appeared in the National Geographic documentary Civil Warriors commemorating the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War in April 2010 and he appeared in the History Channel documentary Blood and Glory: The Civil War in Color in April 2015 commemorating the 150th anniversary of the end of the war. He recently contributed the afterword to Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century’s Most Photographed American published November 2015 (Authors: John Stauffer, Zoe Trodd, Celeste-Marie Bernier with a foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., WW Norton & Company, 2015). Ken is honored to have been a keynote speaker at the United Nations on several occasions.
Ken believes he has an obligation to use the platform his ancestors have built, through struggle and through sacrifice, to stand up and fight to end the scourge of modern-day slavery. In addition to his duties at FDFI, he sits on the Honorary Advisory Committee for the Frederick Douglass Ireland Project and he is an Ambassador for the non-profit organization, Human Rights First. He has contributed his talents to the board of directors for Kaleidoscope Arts Factory, a non-profit performing arts organization for children, the Booker T. Washington Family Committee and the Dean’s Advisory Committee at the University of La Verne.
Ken received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of La Verne January, 2012. In June 2012, he received the National Park Services Network To Freedom Underground Railroad Frederick Douglass Legacy Award. In January 2014, he was awarded the Women’s E-News 21 Leaders for the 21st Century Ida B. Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism. In April 2016, Ken received the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights’ Anne Frank Change the World Award.
Your remarks were warm and personal as they were thought-provoking. It was a pleasure to learn about your famous ancestors in such an intimate way. Many staff commented afterwards how much they enjoyed your presentation. I appreciate and am grateful that you hit directly on the themes on which we focus in this Project, especially that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, and that our freedom is the result of their blood and toil.
Mr. Morris has definitely inherited his Great Great Great Grandfather’s oratorical talents and gives a captivating presentation of his family genealogy and history of rising out of slavery to achieve historical accomplishments that have impacted the lives of generations of African-Americans.
Your presentation kept everyone on the edge of their seats. As I spoke with people today, many cited that you gave a history lesson on these two important people but made it real because you lived it. I hope the children in this community will get an opportunity to hear your presentation.
Thank you for sharing your wisdom and your heart with the University of La Verne campus. Your remarks were inspirational and wil be remembered long after the commencement. We look forward to interacting with you in the near future.
I can’t begin to thank you for taking the time to speak with my students. I know you have planted a lot of seeds today and hopefully they will grow and realize they can make a difference in the cause of Modern Day Slavery.
Although you could not see them, we had quite a few faculty members watching and listening to you. Our principal was very impressed. Starting next year, Frederick Douglass will be mandated reading for students grades 8-12.
On behalf of the MLK committee, I want to thank you for your participation in our 2013 Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration service. As I m sure you are aware, your message was well-received by those gathered for the service.
It was exciting for the committee to see attendees so engaged with [you] and eager to meet you afterward. We appreciate you taking so much time after the event to engage with those who attended.
Our students and our community are very fortunate to have had an opportunity to hear you speak and to be reminded of the injustices that exist to this day. I continue to be stopped in the hallway and hear many positive comments about your presentation, which was thought provoking and memorable.
Kenneth’s presentation was truly an inspiration to the students in attendance, and it made two historical figures come to life by highlighting their struggles and accomplishments. His program is an invaluable tool for bringing students a unique perspective on history.
Your presentation was very enlightening and inspirational. Your comments regarding modern-day slavery and human trafficking were informative as well and will benefit our agents who investigate federal violations of these matters.
• 150 Years After the Emancipation Proclamation and Thirteenth Amendment
• Education and Training/Douglass and Washington
• The Modern Abolitionist Movement
• The True Power of Women in History
• Globalization and Human Trafficking
• MLK Speaker
Video • Audio • Article
CBS News - Family of abolitionist Frederick Douglass continues his legacy
CBS Evening News Story on Mr. Morris
Listen to Ken on the Michel Martin Show on NPR
Read the Washington Post Story