What Do You Tell Those Who Are Listening?
Darnell Lamont Walker, often recognized as a Social Activist, Scholar, Networker, and All-Around Good Guy, has been working hard, using his talents, skills, knowhow and anything else he’s able to pull from his big bag to uplift people all across the world, from alleys in NYC to bar stools in Johannesburg.
“It’s an amazing thing,” says Walker. “Funny how we move along hoping and wishing for change, and when we get a moment to breathe and reflect and look at all we’ve done and how far we’ve come, we realize everything has changed without our permission. I love that about life.” Looking back on his life, Walker recalls those “amazing” struggles: being part of a generation of men raised by women, failed dreams, the oodles-of-noodle nights in a college apartment, fatherhood, rejection after rejection, and much more. “But if I didn’t want to be there, I would have left the path,” he says.
As an artist, Walker has toured the world, sharing his thoughts with those brave enough to listen, shaking hands with those who appreciate happiness and good living, and those who hope for those things. Walker was a founding member of Elevation, an organization designed to elevate failing communities nationwide, helping them to destroy then rebuild. As a result, Walker has been fortunate enough to speak at such prestigious institutions as Morehouse College, The University of Virginia, Howard University, the Apollo Theater, the Schomburg Center, and many other stages across the world. As a spoken word artist, Walker took advantage of the opportunity to perform with John Legend.
As and educator and mentor, Walker works diligently, building a self-sustaining generation of leaders. For over six years, Walker has been studying the effective behaviors of community leaders who fight against the things plaguing the communities that have no voice: broken homes, drug addiction, incarceration, HIV/AIDS (specifically among youth), mental illness. Having taught in correctional facilities and detention centers and talking one-on-one with each student in his class, Walker is finding a way to become a catalyst for the prevention of more people going to these places.
As an author and owner of his own publishing company, Walker created The Griot Summer Writing Workshop for authors, and aspiring authors, to come together in a living environment for two weeks and learn from one another. “I came in not knowing what to expect really,” says Syd, a member of the first cohort, “but it didn’t take long to see this was going to be one of the best experiences of my creative life.” Walker’s latest book, Creep, has him all over the place, leading relationship workshops, addressing controversial and taboo topics, and making the crowds laugh hysterically. Walker says, “I love talking about relationships in any setting. I love to see the look on the faces of the women when I give them my version of a situation, and the look on the mens’ faces when I give away what they felt should be kept a secret. This is my time to break away from the serious discussions I often have.”
Darnell Lamont Walker, a free-spirited nomad, is not heavily sought-after simply based on his achievements alone, but because he knows how to engage the people. He knows how to find that common ground early in the discussion and make everyone feel as if they’ve opened every part of themselves to the good things to come.
Topics: Relationships, Sustainability, Social & Community Activism, Setting & Achieving Goals, Personal & Organizational Development, Writing, Creativity, Film & Television Critique, Diversity
“Darnell came to speak to a group of kids I mentor at a detention center, and I felt as though he wasn’t dressed Appropriately. He had on khakis, a collard shirt and loafers. For five minutes the kids made fun of him, and he sat there listening. Then he spoke, and within 30 seconds each kid was engaged and ready to take part in whatever revolution Darnell was offering. I make him return every time he’s in the city.” – Nikuyah W., Charlottesville, VA
“I received an email one day from a young college student telling me he had gone to my website, listened to each speech I had listed there and wanted to come see me when I arrived in Jacksonville, Fl. I invited him up and he sat front row. 10 minutes into my whatever it was I was talking about, I introduced the audience of young business professionals to Darnell, the young scholar, and asked if he had anything he wanted to say to the audience before I continued. He jumped up, grabbed the microphone, and in a matter of seconds, the once-serious crowd became a room of energy and smiles. I think I still owe him for that.” – Ernest B., Business Consultant, Speaker
“Most of my life was spent in juvenile detention, then jails and prisons. Prior to my release a few years ago, I was told I had to attend a class that’d help me adjust properly to the outside world. I get in there, sit down, and in comes this young, skinny kids I had seen a few times when I was out. ‘This can’t be right,’ I said. The guys in the class had the same thoughts, I guess. What could this kid who’s never been in our shoes teach us. Then he asked ‘what is it you think I could teach you that you don’t already know?’ Every Wednesday after that, until my release, I looked forward to hearing these stories, and writing my own, and learning about those things I had never thought about. I haven’t been back in since, and I know that a part of that, however big or small, is owed to Darnell.” – Carlos M., Washington, DC
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