Marcus Sibley is a speaker with character, conviction and an unparalleled passion for providing high quality speaking services addressing the numerous complex issues impacting the community.
The Rutgers University Graduate and Newark, New Jersey native drew upon 10+ years experience working with at-risk populations to develop a series of dynamic speaking services designed specifically for our youth, young adults, parents and workplace staff.
The Newark native has had the opportunity to provide various speaking services throughout the country for numerous entities from both the public and private sector. To name a few he's conducted youth workshops in the Washington, DC for the YMCA; Leadership Development Seminars in Chicago, IL for the Jordan Foundation; Parenting Workshops in Ossining, NY at Sing Sing Prison; and in New Jersey, Staff In-Service Training for the East Orange Child Development Corporation; Keynote addresses for Bank of NY Mellon; and Black History Presentations for Merrill Lynch.
Mr. Sibley's highly informative and interactive workshops and presentations include multimedia illustrations, humor, music, population-specific data, analogies, engaging exercises, as well as live and prerecorded performances of his positive music to ensure greater rates of attendee attentiveness, participation and information retention.
I recently had an opportunity to catch up with Mr. Sibley where he chatted about his mission and inspiration behind what he does. Check out the interview below.
Can you please tell myself and the readers about yourself?
Peace and Blessings Purposely Awakened Magazine, my name is Marcus Sibley, MSW. I'm a Newark, New Jersey native with southern roots that loves house music, watching movies, empowering my people and the New York Knicks. Professionally, I'm the CEO of WordsEmpower Speakers Bureau, owner of photography company Sanaa17 Productions and co-founder of Independent Record Label Beyond Musiq Records. I received bachelor’s and master’s Degrees in Social Work from Rutgers University, and as of February 10, 2018 I was sworn in as the Communications, Press & Publicity Chair for the NAACP New Jersey State Conference.
Growing up and still to this day who inspires you? How did they impact your life?
My parents have always been a major source of inspiration. They sacrificed daily, restricting themselves from things they wanted so that I could have everything I needed. Of course, I wanted the name brands my friends had, but they taught me very early about the importance of our people making sacrifices for greater goals. My father also had three sons prior to meeting my mother, so on top of the bills etc, they made ways to get us to Georgia to see them or had my brothers flown up many summers. Their selflessness when it came to family and community has always been my compass. And now that my fiancée and I became first time parents in October 2017, inspiration has been taken to a whole new level in my life.
What influenced you to be a leadership development specialist and what does it entail?
I was doing very well aa a crisis intervention specialist for a county family crisis intervention unit and felt I could empower more lives as a speaker. I put myself on a strict budget for two years and then left my job in December 2005. I began by doing free workshops at churches which led to free gigs throughout the state at schools. In time, paid opportunities at universities, businesses and conventions across the country began.
My role as a Leadership Development Specialist entails training groups both large and small to focus in on their purpose, set goals with a road map to achieve them and equip them with the tools to repair the potholes encountered along the way. Workshops within the leadership curriculum include Workplace I: Staff Rejuvenationand Workplace II: Diversity and Cohesion, toCollege Preparation: Life Skills, Parenting II: Structure, and Black History: The Role of Currencyto name a few. I'm very fortunate to have trustworthy family and friends that assist with the baby when my fiancée and/or I have speaking gigs.
You're also a poet/recording artist, what inspired this passion?
I have written poetry since elementary school and was first published in a collection of works in the fourth grade. Music is also very important to me. No matter what mood we're in, we look to a song that expresses that mood. I wanted to combine empowering, metaphor-laden lyrics with quality produced music because I know people, especially our youth, listen to music daily. I connected with my friend Chris O'Neal from high school and founded an independent record label so that we could make the music that mattered to us.
My stage name is Walkin Contradiction and his is Chris Phoenix, and to date we've released on iTunes and other digital platforms songs like Please Stop the Violence, Cancer Can't Touch My Soul, My Chocolate Woman, and About U that both entertain, inspire and motivate the listener. Making music that moves people in every sense of the word, has been our goal since we started the label back in 2006. I also include poetry and music in workshops and presentations, so that's always given a slight edge when it comes to winning bids for speaking opportunities, and also enables audiences to take the messages home with them in the form of CDs.
What message do you hope your poetry and music to convey? What impact do you wish to have on our culture?
We are beautiful people and our music should reflect that. I take my role as a songwriter and artist very seriously because unlike a workshop, a song can be played anytime, anywhere. We released my third full-length album Arrival a few months before the birth of my daughter, and I feel proud that she can listen to her father's music without feeling degraded or disrespected. She is a Black Queen and the music reminds her to love herself and her community. My goal is to continue working to get my music into as many schools and households as possible because we need to hear music that takes us higher, rather than keeping us down.
You have a book coming out in a few months, "Thoughts and Quotes to Live By." How was this endeavor?
Doing things independently has always been important to me, so I'm in the process of starting a publishing company to release my first book. Bringing the book from idea to inception has definitely been a challenge, but I'm very excited to release this new project to the world.
Can you give us a brief premise or summary to your book?
I have always posted quotes about life on Facebook and a few years ago decided to compile them into a book. It then evolved into a manual where there is a quote, an explanation and context of the quote and then an application for life. I wanted to write something that could be understood and appreciated by both youth and adults. Our community needs inspiration at all ages to combat the constant attempts done daily to break our spirits.
What great advice and words of wisdom can you offer us fellow millennials?
We won't be free until we can sustain our own communities. This means Black owned banks, schools, supermarkets and more. We can get there, but it takes sacrifice and the understanding that we can't live like we've made it just yet. When you have generational wealth, you can buy high end fashions every season, and you can blow money in the club every weekend. So, while we're trying to get there, we must be more careful with our hard-earned funds. We have more power than we could ever imagine. We have the knowledge of what has occurred, and the technology and opportunity to ensure that it never happens again. We got this.
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Evan Wheeler hails from Camden, NJ. Most know him as Huey X, which is his selected born again name. It was selected by his love of Huey P Newton and Malcolm X who he follows for their beliefs and looks up to as his mentors. Huey is a well educated brother by the standards of college, as well as being a self taught activist and revolutionary through his experiences in life. He also thinks of himself as an entrepreneur being involved in so many different fields that include: poetry, writing, youth advocacy, business development, investing, and production. He is, “Always looking to advance the culture & legacy ".