Vermont Family Network: Youth Summit

Vermont Family Network keynote speaker

by Chris Davis

“You have a gift of the ability to share your story and possess the courage to open up about your journey to help others.”

Hasan acted as the keynote speaker as well as a workshop leader for youth at the Vermont Family Network’s youth summit aimed at helping youth with disabilities by advising them on prominent issues with solutions he himself has had to use. As someone who grew up with learning disabilities and having faced large obstacles due to them, Hasan used his own experiences to aid and guide over issues like self advocating and resilience as well as strategies for success. 

During the keynote speech, Hasan shared his experiences with various systems and issues that face youth and addressed how the attendees should navigate helping their students in a way that not only helps them get by but more importantly succeed.

During the workshop Hasan addressed important data unknown to many of the youth that it affected, informing youth of the statistics that they would probably never be shown including elevated reprimand rates, suspension numbers, and drop out rates of students with disabilities as opposed to students without and how they could avoid those pitfalls and tactics to succeed in the face of that adversity. 

A video of his Keynote presentation and workshop can be found below.

Keynote (

Workshop (

Hasan as guest on The Resilience Breakthrough Podcast: Harnessing the Wind

Harness the Wind podcast

by Chris Davis

“You throw the sails up and they catch the wind, once you catch the wind you can make it take you wherever you want to go”

On May 14th Hasan joined his friend Cristian Moore on “The Resilience Breakthrough Podcast” which is a podcast built around resilience and used to share stories and strategies of resilience to inspire listeners. Christian Moore is a long time friend of Hasan and a fellow hope dealer. Like Hasan Christian uses his past life experiences to inspire and instill hope in people around him. 

“Hasan Davis knows about hope. It’s the only thing that kept him going through the loss of his cousin, as a soldier, and as the Commissioner of Juvenile Justice for the State of Kentucky.”

Hasan told stories from his past about how hope and resilience are what allowed him to accomplish the things he’s done. He stressed the concept of “Harnessing the wind” of life in order to create opportunity and use hope to reach higher places. 

To listen to Hasan and the rest of the podcast you can find it on Apple Podcasts under the Resilience Breakthrough Podcast, Episode 7. 

Pivotal Presences: African Americans in American History

January/February edition of AC&E Journal

If you have never had the opportunity to imagine yourself as an important part of your nation’s past, how can you ever imagine that you could be valuable to its future?

Following is an article Hasan wrote that was published in the Jan/Feb 2020 issue of the AC&E Journal. You can find a copy of the entire journal at this link.

Throughout American history, there have been defining moments, patriots and heroes. From the revolution to present, average citizens have sacrificed and served. Yet, the stories students learn today are incomplete, a disservice to the true legacy of America. Since 1997, I have worked to bring history alive for students across the nation.

As a young boy I spent hours and hours trying to imagine myself as the hero, the explorer and the adventurer of America’s greatest stories. I found it very difficult because I was never introduced to examples of African Americans as courageous contributors to the great story of America. In elementary school I received my first social studies book and my teacher explained with great enthusiasm that this book contained the stories of people who made America great. I tore through the book searching chapter after chapter for a story that would finally affirm my place, my presence, in America’s great story. I was disappointed chapter after chapter as I finally reached a heading titled “American slavery.” Below the heading was an image of an African American man sitting slumped forward, seemingly broken, with layer upon layer of scars across his back. The caption simply read: The American Negro, Slave. In that moment, the message to this nine-year-old mind was clear: I was not the hero, these were not my adventures, and my courage did not make America great. I was just the raw resource — blood, sweat and tears extracted like coal to fuel the greatness of America. It might not surprise you that by middle school I stopped standing to say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. I began to fight and to disrupt class.

Fortunately, my self-destructive spiral was interrupted by my mother and father who went out of their way to ensure that I was exposed to powerful true stories that debunked the popular myths of homogenous heroes of America. Stories that affirmed that African Americans were a constant heroic presence throughout America’s history. The gift of those counter-narratives allowed me to find myself in America’s story and I forged a commitment to share those stories.

Theater and performance are important components in my life and work. After graduating law school I began researching little-known African Americans who had profoundly impacted American history. While working in education and juvenile justice, I began translating these powerful and empowering stories into living history presentations.

If you have never had the opportunity to imagine yourself as an important part of your nation’s past, how can you ever imagine that you could be valuable to its future?

My goal is to ensure that African American students have the ability to recognize them- selves as full participants in our American story. I also want to ensure that white students have the opportunity to experience stories that affirm African Americans’ persistent and powerful presence at every pivotal moment in America’s great history. While I began this work to ensure that African American young men would see themselves in history, I have come to realize that all young people need to hear these stories. If I could not find myself buried in the story of our nation, what must all of the white children in the class think of me? Did they see me as never contributing but always receiving?

I have developed a series of programs appropriate for middle and high school students. Research tells us that the transition from middle school to high school is difficult for most young people. I know from my own personal experience and from my years as Commissioner of Juvenile Justice in Kentucky that for African American males this transition is often the beginning of their slide out of school and into the prison pipeline.

I designed my programs to be educational and entertaining. They follow the format of Chautauqua which President Teddy Roosevelt called “the most American thing in America.” The presentations begin with first person portrayal blended with Q&A and lectures. For example, my Chautauqua on York of the Lewis and Clark expedition includes a first person historical interpretation where I present a 45 minute monologue as York, sharing the triumphs and tragedies of the mission.

At the conclusion of the first-person historical interpretation, while still in character, I enter into a Q & A session with the students, allowing them to engage with history more personally. Finally, I step out of character and do a second Q & A that allows me to provide additional details on the character and historical context connecting the struggle of the character to the struggles faced by African Americans today. I supplement the living history presentation with lectures to support the learning.

My Chautauqua series currently includes the stories of three African American men:

  • ANGUS AUGUSTUS BURLEIGH: The Long Climb to Freedom from slave to Civil War soldier to scholar
  • YORK: Black explorer with the Lewis and Clark Expedition
  • JOE LEWIS: World heavyweight boxing champ and World War II veteran

These are the stories of America from different points in our great history. I bring them to students to ensure that all voices are heard.

I know that I cannot reach all young people via these programs. So, in 2018, I took the time to write and publish York’s story. I intentionally wrote York’s story as narrative non-fiction for grades 3rd to 6th to reach a younger audience. It is imperative that these stories be foundational to a students’ learning.

I also provide professional development to teachers across the country. It is critical that all teachers work to ensure the success of all students.


  • Expand their own knowledge of the contributions of diverse individuals and capture their stories;
  • Include stories of diverse individuals throughout the curriculum; and,
  • Create opportunities for the stories of each student and their families to live within the classroom.

Teachers can provide the opportunity for each child to see themselves as an important part of our nation’s history.


Calling himself a “dealer in hope for all students,” Hasan Davis has committed himself to improving the lives of children and youth across the nation and around the world. A G.E.D. recipient, Hasan earned a bachelor’s degree from Berea College and a law degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Hasan’s work has focused on youth violence prevention, juvenile justice reform, and education inclusion. He lives in Berea, Kentucky with his wife and their two sons.

Visiting Lots of Kentucky Schools in November

Hasan Davis school speaker

I’m having a great week of Hope Dealing close to home. Friday I’m at Floyd Central High School in Kentucky and the Narrative 4 story exchange with students from the Bronx NY.

Yesterday was Knox Central High School in Barbourville, KY with a whole school assembly, a breakout session for student leaders and mentors and then a great conversation with some of the ROTC Cadets!

Today I had a couple of hours with Pre-service teachers at Eastern Kentucky University exploring equality/equity/justice and the commitment to provide ALL children quality educational opportunities…

Still up this week, a day with the students at Corbin High School, then closing the week keynoting the Annual GLIMPSE Diversity Leadership Conference which will take place this year at Berea College. The Berea Black Cultural Center wants to make sure I include other supporters like Partners for Education at Berea CollegeMary Margaret SloneAnn Lyttle-Burns in all of this….. WHEW #HopeDealers