Co-Founder & President
Mr. Morris descends from two of the most influential names in American history: he is the great-great-great-grandson of Frederick Douglass and the great-great-grandson of Booker T. Washington. His mother, Nettie Washington Douglass, is the daughter of Nettie Hancock Washington (granddaughter of Booker T. Washington), and Dr. Frederick Douglass III (great-grandson of Frederick Douglass). Ken’s life until the year 2007 could be described as distinguished yet decisively disengaged from his lineage until Providence called.
Ken continues his family’s legacy of anti-slavery and educational work as co-founder and president of the Rochester, NY-based nonprofit Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI). His career and life path are driven by a clear focus on FDFI’s mission“[to] Build Strong Children and to end systems of exploitation and oppression.“ He could not have predicted that one day he would so fully embrace and be defined by the characteristics that so closely defined his famous ancestors.
FDFI brings the guidance of history to the fight against modern forms of slavery. As part of the present-day abolitionist movement, FDFI educates young people about all forms of forced servitude and inspires them to action. Current FDFI projects include PROTECT, a partnership with two California-based nonprofit organizations, 3Strands Global and Love Never Fails, to provide grade-level appropriate, state standard-compliant human trafficking prevention education to thousands of California schoolchildren from grade school to high school and the One Million Abolitionists project, which with a wide range of partners including the National Park Service, educational institutions, community organizations, and individuals will print and distribute one million copies of a special Bicentennial edition of Frederick Douglass’s first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave, to young people across the country.
An accomplished and prolific public speaker, Ken regularly appears before charitable organizations, local, state, and federal government agencies, civic organizations, and students across the country. He has lectured internationally at universities including New Castle University, Columbia University, Morehouse College, UNLV, Tuskegee University, Loyola University Chicago, and Yale University, and has appeared on CNN, Democracy Now!, PBS, NPR, Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien, and the CBS Evening News. Ken is honored to have been a keynote speaker at the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s annual conference in Luxembourg.
Ken appeared in both the National Geographic documentary Civil Warriors, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, and in the 2015 History Channel documentary Blood and Glory: The Civil War in Color, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the end of the war. Ken also appeared in the National Geographic documentary Rise Up: The Legacy of Nat Turner. He contributed the afterword to Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century’s Most Photographed American (November 2015; authors John Stauffer, Zoe Todd, and Celeste-Marie Bernier, with a foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.) and the foreword to a bicentennial edition of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, published in January 2017.
Ken received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of La Verne in California in January 2012. In June 2012, he received the inaugural National Park Service Underground Railroad Network to Freedom’s Frederick Douglass Underground Railroad Legacy Award in recognition of his commitment to promoting social change through activism that addresses contemporary social issues. In January 2014, Ken was the first man to be awarded the Women’s E-News 21 Leaders for the 21st Century Ida B. Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism. In April 2016, he received the Anne Frank Change the World Award from the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights, and in November 2017, he received the National Association of African American Honors Programs Legacy Keeper Award. In 2018, Ken received awards including the Award for Excellence from Washington College, Wind Beneath My Wings from the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and the Frederick Douglass Medal from the Douglass Institute for African & African-American Studies at the University of Rochester.
Prior to co-founding FDFI in 2007, Ken was a partner at C&A Marketing, a marketing and entertainment firm partnership, recognized as a leader in the field of corporate meetings, incentive travel, and the development of customized marketing programs. He has been a member of the board of directors for Kaleidoscope Arts Factory, a nonprofit performing arts organization, the Booker T. Washington Family Committee, and the Dean’s Advisory Committee at the University of La Verne. Ken sits on the board of directors for the Frederick Douglass Ireland Project, he serves as board president at The Young Americans performing arts organization, and he is a former ambassador for the nonprofit organization Human Rights First. In November 2017, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi named him to the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission, where he served as Commission Chair.
Ken received a Bachelor of Arts Religion from the Ecumenical Center for Black Church Studies at the University of La Verne. He strongly believes, as did Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, that education is the pathway to freedom.
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Frederick Douglass Field Dedication: Rutgers Newark
Frederick Douglass: Inventor of the Selfie
Soledad O’Brien interview on Matter of Fact
Democracy Now! Interview
Washington College Acceptance Speech of Douglass Honorary Degree
Click here to listen to Ken on the Age Appropriate podcast
Click here to listen to Ken on Center for American Progress’ podcast Thinking Cap
A descendant of Douglass, Washington says fight against slavery continues – Read the Story
Click here to read the Washington Post Story