Michael Benitez, Jr.

"More than Beats and Rhymes: Hip Hop as Agency for Transforming Consciousness and Activism in Education"

Youth Summit Plenary Speaker

10:15 AM – 11:15 AM   Main Gymnasium, Lincoln High School                        

Youth Summit Kickoff Speaker:

Michael Benitez Jr. is a social justice educator, speaker and activist-scholar, integrating hip hop pedagogy, academic inquiry and personal experience. His presentations provide critical and multi-contextual frameworks for empowerment and education, addressing issues of diversity and social justice; cross- and intercultural development and multiculturalism; knowledge representation and equity; and identity, leadership and youth development.

Benitez is co-editor of the anthology, Crash Course: Reflections on the Film “Crash” for Critical Dialogues About Race, Power and Privilege, a collection of essays by some of the country’s most prominent anti-racism writers, scholars and activists. His most recent writing on culture centers, anti racism and social justice was published in Culture Centers in Higher Education: Perspectives on Identity, Theory, and Practice (Stylus, July 2010). Currently, Benitez is a doctoral student (Ph.D.) at Iowa State University focusing on Educational Leadership and Policy Studies with a concentration on social justice and higher education. He previously served as Director of Intercultural Development and the David A. Portlock Black Cultural Center at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania and adjunct faculty in the Graduate School of Leadership and Professional Advancement at Duquesne University. He completed both his Bachelor of Science with a minor in African- and African-American Studies and Masters of Education at the Pennsylvania State University (PSU). There, Benitez served under the College Assistance Migrant Program, where he helped revive the program’s migrant education efforts. Later, at Dickinson College, as Director of Diversity Initiatives and Social Justice, Benitez established the “Diversity Monologues,” an annual program aimed at highlighting the creative talents of students while addressing diversity and social justice issues.