advocacy and activism

DeRay McKesson biography: 13 things about Black Lives Matter activist from Baltimore, Maryland

DeRay McKesson is an African-American man from Baltimore, Maryland, United States. He is an activist known for supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

McKesson is also a podcaster and an author. Here are 13 more things about him:


  1. He was born in Baltimore on July 9, 1985.
  2. From 1999 to 2003, he was a member of the Maryland Advisory Board on After-School Opportunity Programs.
  3. In 2003, he graduated from Catonsville High School in Baltimore.
  4. In 2007, he graduated cum laude from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, USA with a bachelor’s degree in government and legal studies.
  5. From May 2007 to June 2009, he worked for Teachers for America. He was a teacher at Frederick Douglas Academy VIII Middle School in New York City, New York, USA.
  6. From June 2010 to August 2011, he was a training and resource manager at TNTP.
  7. He joined the Black Lives Matter movement after the death of Michael Brown died at the hands of a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. The blue vest became his signature garment during the protests he joined in 2014. From December 2013 to March 2015, he was a senior director of human capital for Minneapolis Public Schools. On March 4, 2015, he took to Twitter to announce that he had quit the job and had moved to St. Louis, Missouri, USA.
  8. He and his fellow activists Johnetta Elzie, Brittany Packnett and Samuel Sinyangwe launched Mapping Police Violence in April 2015 to collect data on people killed by police in 2014 and a policy plan for police reform called Campaign Zero in August 2015. In June 2015, he was in Charleston, South Carolina, USA to protest the Charleston church shooting. A Twitter campaign featuring the hashtag #GoHomeDeray demanded him leave the city.
  9. In 2016, he voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary election and Hillary Clinton in the general election. He announced his candidacy for Mayor of Baltimore in February 2016 and placed sixth in the city’s Democratic primary in April 2020 with 2.5 percent of the vote. In June 2016, he was appointed as the interim chief human capital officer of Baltimore City public schools by district CEO Sonja Santelises. On July 9, 2016, he participated in a protest of the killing of African-American man Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA and was arrested while livestreaming. He was released on July 10, 2016 and met with Barack Obama on July 13, 2016 along with other Black Lives Matter activists.
  10. On May 2, 2017, he launched the political podcast “Pod Save the People,” which he co-hosts with Packnett, Sinyangwe and Dr. Clint Smith. In the podcast, which is distributed by Crooked Media, they discuss news, culture, politics and social justice with their guests.
  11. In July 2017, a Baton Rouge police officer who sustained life-altering injuries during a protest of the killing of Sterling in July 2016 sued him and the Black Lives Matter movement. U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson dismissed the suit in October 2017 and ruled that the officer launched a confused attack against the movement but the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the ruling on April 24, 2019. The Supreme Court sided with him on November 2, 2020 and reversed the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision although the possibility that the police officer could ultimately win the case was left open.
  12. He was wearing his signature blue vest when a portrait of him was photographed by Quinn Russell Brown. The portrait was featured n the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., USA on October 25, 2019.
  13. In April 2020, he tested positive for the new coronavirus (COVID-19). After recovering, he resumed his activism.

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