Stay Woke: DeRay Mckesson Opens Up About Refreshing New Podcast

The activist has launched 'Pod Save the People' to inform and uplift listeners.

When DeRay Mckesson announced on Twitter —the place where he’s gained a loyal following that includes Beyoncé— that he’d be starting a podcast, it made perfect sense. 

The Baltimore-bred activist has dedicated his life to informing and uplifting Black people and a weekly sounding board to consistently do this felt like an organic next step.

We had to know more. And more information is what he gave us.

“Social media is and has been over the past three years, a place for us to both tell our stories, organize, participate and force conversations we otherwise wouldn’t have,” Mckesson told ESSENCE. “The podcast allows me to create space for conversations that can lead to change things in a different way.”

Called Pod Save the People, the weekly show is hosted by the 31-year-old but will have regular appearances from VP of national community alliances for Teach for America, Brittany Packnett and Campaign Zero co-founder, Samuel Sinyangwe.

On the inaugural episode, Mckesson talks to Senator Corey Booker about prison reform and medical regulation. He then transitions to a discussion about healthcare with Andy Slavitt, who ran Obamacare for three years.

“We’ve wanted a podcast dedicated to answering the question ‘What can I do to help?’ since the moment we started Crooked Media,” said Jon Favreau who co-founded Crooked Media and was President Barack Obama’s former speechwriter.

“I’ve always thought DeRay would be the perfect host. He’s not just an accomplished activist, but a deeply thoughtful, inspirational communicator who can connect with people looking for hope and guidance about the path forward right now.”

While Mckesson couldn’t divulge who’s being booked for the show (the lineup is exciting to say the least), he did note that he plans to talk to experts, political leaders, cultural influencers and activists/organizers. 

“I’m hoping that with Pod Save the People that listeners experience conversations that help them process the world differently,” Mckesson said.

“That build that capacity to organize and to be activists in their home, communities and a national level. It’s important to me that activists and citizens understand the importance of issues at hand, at a deep level.”

Listen to Pod Save the People every Tuesday by subscribing here.

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To me, being woke means that you recognize that the world is not a simple place, that everything is not all equal, that justice has not happened yet for everyone. And that there's a lot of work to be done. [MUSIC] Your eyes are wide open and you're paying attention. And you're reaching out, and speaking to people along the way, and bringing them on. To increase the amount of wokeness in your community. Being woke is like eyes wide open, everything is clear. You can always see things that other people can just ignore or they just don't know. Woke for me is just being outraged all the time and being able to stay human and feel outraged about injustice that is happening around me. It's being uncomfortable all the time. And making sure that I'm speaking on behalf of those that can't speak out for themselves. Some people know what's happening around them, but they are not doing anything. Right. They're just like, well, it is what it is. Yeah. That's not what woke means, that you actually Take it upon yourself to be like, this is something I need to fix. I need to be part of the solution. And the other thing is, to do that knowing that you can fix it, whatever your level of platform is, there's always an opportunity for you to do just a little something to support them. I also think about what words actually mean, and how we give them power, right? Are you just going to wear it across your chest, but actually not live it out, or are you going to give this word a meaning with your actions? With your daily commitment. And I think in order for us to really progress, we're gonna need people to really step out of their comfort zones, and have those uncomfortable conversations, and not just live in a space where they get to preach to people who already understand what it means. Couldn't agree more. I think to be woke means that you are aware of the issues and the world around [MUSIC] [UNKNOWN] I believe it means that you are engaged in the work of justice. This is a time where we just, we can't afford to be asleep. We have to be all the way alert. Without action on the knowledge that we have now, our world will never change. And we need that more than ever. [MUSIC]