2017 Keynote Speaker Maryum Ali

Maryum Ali

Maryum Ali, affectionately known as May May, was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and is the eldest child of boxing legend Muhammad Ali’s nine children.  As a little girl, her father asked her what she thought her purpose in life was and she replied, “I want to help people.” Maryum’s efforts to help people have manifested in a myriad of ways throughout her life. 

 
She performed as a stand-up comedian for twelve years in venues across the country filling rooms with humor and insightful observations of social issues.  As a regular performer at The Comedy Store in Hollywood, she worked alongside talents such as Jim Carey, Chris Rock, and Martin Lawrence.  During that same time, she was also writing rap lyrics with plans of publishing her music.


In 1992, May May’s rap album, “The Introduction,” was released by Scottie Brother’s Records.  She viewed music as a way to inspire youth to strive for their dreams despite challenges and hardships.  But when the rap industry began focusing on music filled with violence and female exploitation, Maryum decided to find a more direct way of helping young people.  Hence, she left show business and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. Degree in Social Work.  While in college, Maryum worked as a trained Mediator for Clark County Social Services, Neighborhood Justice Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.  


Maryum has 15 years of experience in delinquency prevention and family development and has worked in many capacities in this field; from having direct practice experience with over 300 families to working as a Regional Manager for the Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction & Youth Development in the City of Los Angeles.  She is currently seeking private funding for the non-profit organization, DMTL, a gang prevention and youth development program that she co-founded with Nason Buchanan.


 Maryum is the author of a children’s picture book about her father titled, I Shook Up the World: The Incredible Life of Muhammad Ali.  She is also a spokesperson for Team Parkinson and The Parkinson’s Unity Walk.  Over the years, Maryum has appeared on television networks such as, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, ESPN, BBC, AL Jazeera, BBC, FOX, BET, Centric, Lifetime, and the Hallmark Channel.


More recently, A&E Network heard Maryum’s gang prevention work in Los Angeles and invited her to participate in their new documentary series, 60 Days In that premiered in March 2016. On this show, Maryum served 60 days in an Indiana jail as an undercover inmate with the mission of giving the County Sheriff recommendations on ways to reform the jail. 

List of Previous Speakers

2016 Bob Zellner, Civil Rights activist
2015 Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist
2014 Dick Gregory, Civil Rights activist and comedian
2013 Myrlie Evers-Williams, Civil Rights activist, first female chairperson of the NAACP
2012 Andrew Young, US Ambassador, Congressman, Mayor of Atlanta and Co-Founding Principal and Chairman of Goodworks International
2011 Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, political commentator and educator
2010 Kweisi Mfume, political and business leader
2009 Dr. Nikki Giovanni, poet, author, essayist and professor
2008 Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Jr., Senior Minister Emeritus, The Riverside Church; President and Founder, Healing of the Nations Foundation
2007 Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, Co-Founder, Southern Christian Leadership Conference
2006 Julian Bond, Chairman, NAACP
2005 Juan Williams, Author, Columnist, NPR Host
2004 Dr. Scott Ellsworth, Author, "Death in a Promised Land..."
2003 *Rep. Opio Toure, Oklahoma State Representative
2002 Hon. Fred R. Harris, Former US Senator, Member of "The Group"
2001 Dr. G. Calvin McCutchen, Sr., Pastor, Mt. Zion Baptist Church
2000 W.A. Drew Edmondson, Attorney General of the State of Oklahoma
1999 Ms. Diane Nash, Student Leader of the Non-violent Civil Rights Movement of te 1960s
1998 Rev. Dr. James Lawson, Pastor, Holman United Methodist Church, Los Angeles, California
1997 Mr. Morris Dees, Co-Founder, Southern Law Poverty Center, Montgomery, Alabama
1996 *Rev. Wade Watts, Pastor, Jerusalem Baptist Church, Oklahoma City
1995 *Dr. Ernest Holloway, President, Langston University
1994 *Ms. Clara Luper, Oklahoma Civil Rights Leader, Oklahoma City
1993 Dr. Cynthia Hale, Pastor, Atlanta, Georgia
1992 *Dr. Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher, University of Oklahoma Board of Regents
1991 *The Honorable Hannah Atkins, Oklahoma Secretary of State, 1987-1991
1990 Brig. Gen. Frank L. Miller, Jr., Commander, III Corps Artillery, Fort Sill
1989 Dr. George Henderson, Department of Human Relations, University of Oklahoma
1988 *Rev. JL Davenport, Pastor, St. John's Baptist Church
1987 Dr. Melvin Todd, Vice President, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education
1986 Rev. Gregory Wilson Jones, Pastor, Frederick, OK
1985 Dr. Valree Wynn, Emeritus Cameron Faculty

*Denotes deceased