His grandfather led several civil rights protests. His father sang at the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King. Kenneth Powell springs from a long line of civil rights activists.
“My great, great, great grandfather was a slave back in South Carolina. I have a picture of his children sitting at their home in South Carolina, back in 1913, and that’s hanging up in my office,” he said. “And so that helps to keep me grounded and remember where I come from and the sacrifices of my ancestors that have led me to have the opportunities that I have today. It’s in my blood.”
Powell serves as chief legal officer for the Ecumenical Leadership Counsel and participates in several organizations working with underrepresented minorities. He began his post-college career as a tennis pro and a sports agent, representing primarily baseball players.
What motivates you most in your work as an attorney and as an advocate for Diversity & Inclusion?
Systemic racism motivates me daily. I was fortunate to be born to a family who values education and hard work. My grandfather, Jerome Williams Sr., was a physician in St. Louis and a civil rights leader. My father is a dentist and was also involved in civil rights. In fact, he sang in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral. Although I was born into a privileged situation, life has not been easy for me. I can only imagine the uphill battle that African American children are facing when growing up in a lower-income household in St. Louis. Every day, I am motivated to try to give back and lift up the community. I am trying to make a difference. These kids need us.
Who has most inspired you in your work for Diversity & Inclusion, and why?
Dad and Granddad, Wayman Smith, Frankie Freeman, Margaret Bush Wilson . . . to name a few. I am standing on the shoulders of giants.
What goal remains unfulfilled for you as an attorney and advocate for Diversity & Inclusion?
I would like for there to be more African American attorneys in St. Louis. The community needs to see more African American professionals. Urban youth need to be exposed to Black doctors and lawyers as much as they see professional athletes and entertainers. I truly want to make sure I am doing as much as I can to assist in this process.
What makes you most proud of your law firm?
We treat each and every client as we would want to be treated. I am assembling a very talented team of legal minds. We often cut our fees to put more money in our client’s pockets. I am proud of the mentality of our firm. We have a growth mindset and are always trying to improve.
Other details you wish to include?
My wife, April Powell, is my much-better half. She is a rock star. She is currently the site lead for Cash App in St. Louis. She received her MBA from [the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis]. I love her tremendously. Our three daughters are all under 6 years old. We have our hands full.