About The People

Danny Tejada grew up in East New York, Brooklyn, an impoverished neighborhood. His family was on public assistance. He would go to school very early so he could eat breakfast. Every day, he looked forward to school lunch. On many nights, he would go to bed hungry because he wanted to make sure his two younger siblings had enough to eat. “Not having enough to eat wasn't the hardest part of my life,” Danny says, “it was dealing with my parents.”

When his maternal grandmother passed away, Danny's parents started to drink beer and fight a lot. He recalls the fighting: “I had to step between my parents many times. One time, I had to push my father into the bathtub to prevent him from hitting my mother further.” His father would threaten him whenever he tried to break things up. “I would stay awake at night until every one fell asleep so I could make sure everything was okay,” Danny says.

Danny's father's short temper made him feel like he was in jail whenever he was home. “My siblings and I couldn't laugh or make any kind of noise,” he says. He tried his best to be there for his siblings and to keep their minds off the drama in the home. But unfortunately, it wasn't enough for his brother. “He just checked out. He started to do bad in school and getting in a little trouble with the law. Our parents weren't active in his or my development,” he says.

Despite not having his parents involved, Danny started to push himself in high school. He went to George Westinghouse High School in Downtown Brooklyn. “I knew education was the only way I could make my life better. Not only was this good for me, it was good for my siblings. I was the only positive example in our home,” he says. After spending a few years in Pace University's Upward Bound program, he had dreams of going away to college. But many people doubted that he could do it. They mentioned the cost and familiar people's failed attempts at graduating.

“I had to prove every one wrong, which is something I felt I had to do my whole life,” Danny says. He applied and was accepted to Skidmore College's Higher Education Opportunity Program. But that wasn't all. He applied to and won three scholarships from the Children's Defense Fund, Hispanic Scholarship Fund and the Los Padres Foundation. In college, he became a Resident Assistant. All of this allowed him to leave college with no loans.

Danny became the first in his family to graduate high school. At Skidmore, he blossomed. His career of giving back and making a difference started at the school. He founded a Hip Hop Culture club called Hip Hop Alliance. “What I wanted to do with the club was to use Hip Hop to get people of all backgrounds to talk about the issues of our society, such as racism, sexism and homophobia,” he says. He also became a mentor to two impoverished Hispanic boys in the Saratoga Mentoring program, and talked to middle school students from Brooklyn about how he survived his life. In four years, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies.

After moving back to New York City, Danny became depressed when he struggled to get a suitable job for a year while he still lived with his parents. “It was hard to take fighting for my freedom only to end up where I started,” he says, “But, I found peace, love and comfort in God; things I craved my whole life.” When he went back to and got more involved in church, everything came together. He kept his career going by giving college admissions workshops, empowerment and educational speeches, becoming a mentor again to a Black boy in the iMentor program who he has released a book with called Different Families, Still Brothers in Paperback and as an E-Book, leading a Young Ministry called Youth Experiencing Salvation at the Church of the Holy Redeemer in East New York, teaching an activism class to high school students in Pace University's Upward Bound program, working at a nonprofit helping impoverished people apply for public health insurance (Medicaid, Family Health Plus and Child Health Plus) in Bushwick, and writing for his blogs HipHopOnMyMind.blogspot.com and PoliticalStateOfMind.wordpress.com.

In addition to all of this, Danny helps his cousin with his sister who is in her care. During his free time, he studies American politics, history and culture with more of a focus on activism, poverty and classism. He lives in Ridgewood, Queens. If you would like him to speak, lead a discussion, Bible Study or workshop at your meeting, event, conference or school on the topics below, feel free to email him at DanielTejadaJr@hotmail.com or call him at 347-469-0341.

Past Speaking Engagements

Children’s Defense Fund’s Beat the Odds Scholarship Ceremony in New York City in November 2009 and December 2010

Skidmore College’s Hip Hop Alliance in March 2011

Pace University’s Upward Bound Program in the Spring of 2011

The Church of the Holy Redeemer in East New York, Brooklyn, New York in June 2011

Free University Week in New York City in September 2012

George Westinghouse High School's Graduation in June 2013

NYSACAC Conference at Adelphi University in June 2014

Danny Tejada
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