Meet Michael Blake, Our 10th Anniversary Host

Tuesday September 19, 2023 By Barbershop Books

Barbershop Books is celebrating a decade of helping the babies read 🎉

We invite you to celebrate this tremendous milestone with us on Wednesday, November 8th, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Museum of the City of New York. Purchase your tickets here.

Join us as we honor early literacy advocate and Barbershop Books supporter Michael Blake.

Blue and yellow background with stars. Photo of a black man sitting on a stool looking at the camera. Text reads Host

Michael Alexander Blake is a proud native of The Bronx, New York and is the youngest son of Jamaican immigrants. His mother is a retired 40 year manufacturer and raised four boys, including a retired Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army and his late Father was an 1199SEIU maintenance supervisor at St. Barnabas Hospital in The Bronx.

Michael is the President of Next Level Sports and Entertainment – the only Black owned national TV Sports network in our country’s history. Viewed in 21 million U.S. households and more than 100 million global households and with programming ranging from HBCU-Know to the What’sNXT studio show, Blake is leading a team that is disrupting the Sports, Media and Technology industries.

Michael Blake is the Founder & CEO of Atlas Strategy Group, Inc. which focuses on Economic Empowerment through increasing Access to Capital, Contracting and Opportunities to Minority, Women and Small Businesses along with creating metrics based programs for Social Justice and Civic Engagement for Communities of Color. Blake has worked with the Washington Football Team, Eccalon, Operation Hope focusing on Financial Literacy for Individuals and Businesses and Green For All as its National Policy Director.

Michael served as a Founding Visiting Fellow at Monroe College’s Institute of Social Justice, Government and Civic Engagement teaching more than 140 students twice a week about Civics and public policy. Blake is also leading the My Brother’s Keeper efforts for Monroe College

Michael served as a three-term Assembly Member in the New York State Assembly representing the 79th District in The Bronx, New York from 2014 to 2020. Blake had his signature piece of legislation signed into law for Small, Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises with less than 300 employees who contract with New York state get paid in 15 days instead of 30 and was the led Co-Sponsor on the five year extension and expansion of the statewide M.W.B.E. program. Blake led the efforts to create the first and only statewide My Brother’s Keeper education program in the country, now totaling more $74 million in four years. Moreover, Blake helped led the charge to Raise The Age of criminal responsibility so that 16 and 17-year-olds are not tried as adults in criminal court, secured funding for lead remediation in New York City public housing and continued to lead the effort in funding Diversity in Medicine medical scholarships for Students of Color.

Michael Blake served as a Vice Chair at Large of the Democratic National Committee from 2017 to 2021, being the first Black man elected to DNC leadership since Ron Brown, helping lead efforts to mobilize millennials, communities of color, local elected candidates and training. Blake has traveled to 31 states and to Japan since the DNC election in February 2017 ranging from candidate trainings to creating Get Out The Vote strategies in base communities across the country.

Michael Blake served in the Obama-Biden administration as the White House Associate Director of Public Engagement and Deputy Associate Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs coordinating outreach to the African American, Minority and Women Business Enterprises and state and county elected official communities. Michael created and executed the Urban Entrepreneurship Summit series, a seven city tour coordinating Public, Private and Not for Profit Partnerships across the country. Moreover, Blake along with Bibi Hidalgo coordinated the Interagency Federal Procurement working group dedicated to increasing procurement spend to Minority and Women Business Enterprises, leading the highest percentage and dollars spent across agencies for MWBEs on record.

Michael Blake’s public and political service began in 2006 as one of the first ten participants in the “Yes We Can” training program led by Senator Barack Obama. After successfully managing three state houses in Michigan, in early 2007, Michael joined then Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign as the Iowa Deputy Political Director and Constituency Outreach Director. A 2007 Time Magazine article stated “At just 25 years old, Michael Blake may have more to do with Barack Obama’s chances of becoming President than anyone besides the candidate himself. That may sound like a stretch, but Blake has the all-important job of bringing in new Iowa voters to caucus for the Illinois Senator”.

In his 20-month, eight state campaign tenure throughout the 2008 Obama-Biden campaign, Blake concluded as the Michigan Deputy State Director and Political Director for the general election. Blake departed the White House to serve as the national deputy director of Operation Vote for the Obama-Biden 2012 re-election and helped expand the diverse electorate that later re-elected President Obama and Vice President Biden, leading to historic turnout among constituencies nationwide.

Blake is a Five Year Term Member fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations and an Aspen Institute Rodel Fellow. Michael is on the board for iVOTE, served as a 2016 Resident fellow at the Harvard University Institute of Politics, becoming the first sitting elected official to serve in that capacity and recently was an advisory board member for the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. Michael is a national Honorary Co-Chair of the New Leaders Council, which has trained more than 7,000 millennials in progressive policies and political organizing.

Michael Blake is a proud alum of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and Brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., 100 Black Men and Prince Hall Freemasonry. Blake is a licensed minister in the United Methodist Church and African Methodist Episcopal church. Michael absolutely loves the Yankees, College Football. Live Music and of course, Jamaican cuisine.

Barbershop Books is looking for sponsors for our 10th Anniversary Celebration.

Your sponsorship will support Barbershop Books’ expanding programs, impacting over 15,000 Black boys and other vulnerable children this year!

To reserve your tax-deductible sponsorship, email Sheena Brockington at

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