Philip Agnew and Asa Shaw are co-directors of Black Men Build, an organization dedicated to transforming black men and engaging them as political and cultural activists. Agnew is the oldest of four boys born to a preacher and a teacher in West Englewood on the south side of Chicago. He is a nationally recognized educator, strategist, writer, trainer, speaker, and cultural critic who emerged as a national activist when he helped to organize the Student Coalition for Justice, formed in response to the 2006 death of Martin Lee Anderson, who was brutally murdered by guards on his first day at a Florida state juvenile “boot camp.” He was also a national surrogate and senior advisor to the 2020 Sanders presidential campaign.
Co-director Asa Shaw is an Afrofuturist and a value-driven revolutionary. Shaw joined Dream Defenders in 2013 and helped to build the Broward County chapter and win campaigns around police accountability. He served as a labor organizer for the Service Employees International Union and became south Florida lead organizer for New Florida Majority, helping to organize the “second chances” campaign that restored voting rights to 1.4 million formerly justice-involved people in Florida.