In partnership with Philadelphia Black Gay Pride, every day throughout the month of February we will spotlight an influential black mover and shaker in the city.
Today: Michael Hinson, DPA (ABD), the director of policy and programs for the Center for Black Equity in Washington, D.C. He is also an adjunct instructor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Cheyney University, the oldest historically black college and university in the United States. He is a former assistant managing director for the City of Philadelphia, the first LGBT liaison for the City of Philadelphia, founder of the COLOURS Organization, a local non-profit social service organization serving LGBT people of color,” and co-founder of Philadelphia Black Gay Pride.
What’s your Philly connection?
I grew up in in Wilmington, Del. and Hemingway, S.C., where my parents still live. I came to Philadelphia originally to find my full self and to grow as a young man. Thanks to three great mentors, Dr. Rashidah Abdul Khabeer, Tyrone Smith and David Fair, I found my full self rather quickly.
When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a lawyer. This dream continued until I earned my Masters in Public Administration, finally realizing why my now-deceased birth father always called me professor. His prophecy is now in full effect. [Laughs]
Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
Wow, it’s really difficult to name just one or two inspirations, as I am truly a “village”-raised kid. My grandparents, Benjamin and Frances Maddix provided me with my first glimpse of extraordinary opportunities. My parents, Michael, Ned and Vera, along with their amazing brothers and sisters, invested time, treasure and love in me. No matter what I achieved personally or professionally it will never rise to the opportunities they afforded me.
Finish this sentence: I feel fiercest when …
… I am sky diving, bungee jumping, parasailing, horseback riding, jet skiing. There’s a madness to my fierceness.
What’s your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement is seeing my little sister, who I raised through her teen years, walk across the graduation line at Philadelphia’s Creative and Performing Arts High School. She moved here from South Carolina seeking to grow her God-given talent, and graduated with a major in classical voice. She also excelled at volleyball. She even earned a vocal scholarship to Settlement Music School. Today she is recording and touring with various artists.
If you had a super power what would it be and how would you use it?
If I had super powers I would end poverty and the endless suffering it causes around the world. I’d also probably learn to swim under water for longer periods of time, since I absolutely wanted to be Aqua Man as a kid. (And it wasn’t just for outfit.)
Finish this sentence: In 10 years …
… I’ll still be teaching at some university, still engaged in addressing social justice and equality related issues. All the while I’ll be enjoying vacations near mountains, rivers, lakes and oceans.
I want to leave you with this quote: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” This is my plight, and that of the Center for Black Equity. We simply cannot leave any individual behind in the struggle for equality.