Akil Kokayi Khalfani, Ph.D.


Dr. Akil Kokayi Khalfani is a Change Agent, Motivational Speaker, Ambassador, Author, and Professor. He is Director for the Center for Global Education and Experiences, Director of the Africana Institute and Associate Professor of Sociology at Essex County College.


Akil began his college education at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1985 majoring in Computer Engineering. However, after his first two Sociology classes and being active in student movements on campus, he began to develop a love for analyzing the social problems of the world and ultimately changed his major to Sociology. Upon graduating from Santa Cruz, he worked at UC Irvine for three years, doing outreach and recruitment, and helping students to organize on campus and in the community. He decided to go to graduate school to prepare for an academic career in 1992 and moved to Philadelphia and started at the University of Pennsylvania in the Fall of 1993.


Akil earned a Ph.D. and a master’s degrees in Sociology from Penn, where he also earned a Graduate Certificate in African Studies. He was awarded the International Pre-dissertation Fellowship from the Social Sciences Research Council, which enabled him to study and live in South Africa. He studied at the University of Pretoria. His areas of expertise are Africana Studies, race relations, social stratification, and developing solutions to social problems.


Akil is the author of, The Hidden Debate: The Truth Revealed about the Battle over Affirmative Action in South Africa and the United States, which was nominated for the American Sociological Association’s (ASA) Oliver Cromwell Cox Award. He is a co-author of Introduction to Sociology: Understanding Our Complex World, 4th edition. He is a contributing author to several books including the W.E.B. Du Bois Encyclopedia, The Demography of South Africa and White Logic, White Methods, Racism and Methodology, which won the ASA’s 2009 Oliver Cromwell Cox Award.


His community service efforts have been honored on numerous occasions. He was awarded the Changing Our Community Award in 2021 by Eyes Wide Open Hope. He was awarded the 2021 Total Faith Media Award for his work as a professor and his dedication to important and high-quality media as the Host and Executive Director of “The Pulse” TV program, which has been airing for over 10 years on Verizon FIOS, Cablevision and on YouTube. The show explores the diversity of the African global experience.


In 2019, Dr. Khalfani was selected as a Presidential Elevate Fellow for the Council on International Educational Exchange. He received a Citation Award from the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa in 2017, for his “outstanding contributions in the field of education and his humanitarian deeds.” He was asked to be a Cultural Ambassador to the Ooni of Ile Ife, Nigeria in 2016 and was awarded The Chair Academy’s 2016 International Exemplary Leadership Award.


He founded Vote-ED, a nonprofit organization dedicated to voter education and registration.


He has appeared in several documentaries including: 54, Searching for Shaniqua ( and Black Eagle of Harlem ( He has given keynote addresses at the United Nations and for various corporate and government organizations such as KPMG and the Transportation and Security Administration (TSA). Additionally, he has given graduation and keynote addresses at various secondary schools and universities. He sits on the editorial board for the Association of Black Sociologists’ journal entitled Issues in Race & Society: An Interdisciplinary Global Journal.


Dr. Khalfani has been recognized for his tireless community work by the United States Congress, the New York and California State Senates, the New York and New Jersey State Assemblies, and several municipalities and counties in New Jersey and New York. He was a Commissioner on the West Orange Human Relations Commission and was the Vice President of the West Orange African Heritage Organization. Ambassador Khalfani was an Advisor to the UNESCO Center for Global Education and previously served as Co-Chair for the Education Committee for the City of Newark’s African Commission and served on the Essex-Newark Coalition to End Homelessness. He served as President and Vice President of the Board of Trustee for Adelaide L. Sanford Charter School.




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