Henry Rogers was born in Queens in 1982, to middle-class parents deeply involved in civil rights activism.
After completing journalism and African American Studies programs at several universities, including Temple University where he completed his Ph.D., Rogers began a career as a university lecturer, taking up various posts along the East Coast in history and African American studies departments.
In 2013, he married his Jamaican bride Sadiqa, a pediatrician, at which time they chose a new surname: Kendi.
Ibram X. Kendi first entered the national spotlight in 2020, when his book How to Be an Antiracist became a bestseller in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the protests that followed.
Ibram had long been Rogers’ pen name. “X” was a hat-tip to the tradition of using the letter X to replace a surname lost or changed during the era of slavery. It was a practice associated with figures like Malcolm X, and one intended by Rogers to symbolize his own struggle against racism.
Ibram X. Kendi’s life has taken quite a different trajectory to that of his enslaved forebears, however.
Kendi was included in Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020.
In July of the same year, he became the founder and director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, which he hopefully declared would “solve these intractable racial problems of our time.”
Categories: Culture Wars/Current Controversies