Kenneth Morris

Kenneth Morris

Direct Descendant of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington

  • Kenneth B. Morris, Jr.         
    Keynote Speaker • Founder & President, Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives   

    “Today I held history in my hands! Your legacy and passion for creating change is an inspiration.”   

    Mr. Morris descends 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 is 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. Some of the work done by Ken and the organization since 2008 include: reaching approximately 80,000 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, Loyola University Chicago and Yale University. Ken appeared in the National Geographic documentary Civil Warriors commemorating the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War and he appeared in the 2015 History Channel documentary Blood and Glory: The Civil War in Color, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the end of the war. Ken recently contributed the afterword to Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century’s Most Photographed American to be published November 2015 (Authors: John Stauffer, Zoe Trodd, Celeste-Marie Bernier with a foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., W. W. Norton & Company, 2015). Ken is honored to have been a keynote speaker at the United Nations on several occasions.

    Ken is an Adjunct Professor at the University of La Verne. He 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. He is the first recipient to receive this recognition. In January 2014, Ken was awarded the Women’s E-News 21 Leaders for the 21st Century Ida B. Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism. He is the first male recipient to be honored with this prestigious award.
    CBS News - Family of abolitionist Frederick Douglass continues his legacy
    Read the Washington Post Story

  • • 150 Years After the Emancipation Proclamation and Thirteenth Amendment
    • Civil Rights 
    • Celebrity 
    • Black Student Union 
    • Black History Month
    • Education and Training/Douglass and Washington
    • The Modern Abolitionist Movement
    • The True Power of Women in History
    • Globalization and Human Trafficking
    • MLK Speaker

  • 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.
    ----- Edward J. DeMarco, Acting Director, Federal Housing Finance Agency

    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.
    ----- Terri L. Miller, Past Program Dir., Anti-Trafficking League Against Slavery, Las Vegas, NV

    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.
    ----- Cheryl Brown, President, NAACP of San Bernardino County

    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.
    ----- Dr. Devorah Lieberman, President, University of La Verne

    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.
    ----- Christopher Donnelly, Teacher, Normandin Middle School – New Bedford, MA

    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.
    ----- Pastor Samuel Gordon, Community Resources & Service, Capital Christian Center – Sacramento, CA

    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.
    ----- Russell A. Davis, Ed.D, President, Gloucester County College

    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.
    ----- LaChandra Butler Burks, Chair, The Atlanta Board of Education

    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.
    ----- William C. Woener, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Las Vegas, NV

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