Ravi (Sanskrit for 'sun') was raised in a home of educators – a middle class family in Ohio. While in high school, Ravi’s interest in politics blossomed as he became active in student government. In high school, he lobbied successfully for. longer lunch periods and doors on the bathroom stalls for men, and organized the first-ever black history month celebration at the co-ed catholic high school. he also won the first-ever State of Ohio King’s Oratorical Contest sponsored by the Ohio Martin Luther King Holiday Commission.
While in high school, he organized the region’s first-ever gospel music youth group competition: Youth Excited for Christ, a weekend of friendly competition and showcase of musical talent. Finally, in high school, he also created the city of Toledo’s Youth Empowerment Award bestowed annually by the Board of Community Relations to adults who volunteer significant hours of their time to the nurture and development of area youth. Following high school,
he enrolled at the University of Michigan where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science with university honors in the winter of 2004. At Michigan, he founded and reactivated the school’s NAACP chapter, and as membership chair, created the largest NAACP college chapter in the country in 2003. He also ran for president of the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, student government and led the effort to host a national NAACP rally at the 2003 Michigan affirmative action oral arguments that April.
After Michigan, he briefly served as the campaign headquarters manager of the city of Toledo’s firstever black mayor re-election campaign. In the fall of 2005, Ravi enrolled in Brown University’s Ph.D. program in political science and earned his Master of Arts degree in political science in 2006 and a Ph.D. in political science in 2009. At Brown he led the reinvigoration of the Nabrit Black Graduate Student Association as their president. While living in Providence, Rhode Island, Ravi has co-led the effort to re-establish the state’s only alumni chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Ravi’s first job after graduate school was at Clark University in Worcester (“Woosta”), Massachusetts. While at Clark, Ravi led the effort to re-establish the Worcester unit of the NAACP and was elected President (the first-ever openly-gay President of color in the history of the national organization). While President, Ravi created and led the city’s first-ever march and rally for Troy Davis and also for International Day of Human Rights. On campus at Clark, Ravi led the drive to develop and propose a Diversity Action Plan, which ultimately led to the development of a university-wide Diversity Task Force that, for the first time (after decades of trying) set into motion the creation of the university’s first-ever Chief Diversity Officer position and office. While at Clark, as one of four Black faculty, he led the effort to institute the first-ever university-wide Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposia and Black History Month Commemorations.
In 2012, Ravi moved to Starkville, Mississippi to work at Mississippi State University (MSU). At MSU, Ravi desired the opportunity to work in one of the few political science departments in the country with a black chair, There, he led the effort in African American Studies to host the first-ever Freedom Summer Conference, bringing together international scholars and former Freedom Riders to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer. He also developed and led the program’s first-ever MLK Oratorical Contest. Still, while at Mississippi State, Ravi led a “Die-In,” one of the earliest university marches and rallies in support of Black Lives Matter (and the first in the SEC). He also served as founder and faculty adviser of the LGBTQ+ Union, a student organization who sought to use the tools of activism to advance equality and equity for underrepresented sexual minorities. Finally, while living in Mississippi and working at Mississippi State, Ravi was a key participant in the City of Starkville’s effort to add LGBTQ non-discrimination protections for municipal workers. He was also elected a member of the Board of Directors at the ACLU of Mississippi, a position he resigned upon his transition to VCU. While with the ACLU, he also served as the Affiliate Equity Officer, where he was responsible for the development and oversight of the unit’s affirmative action compliance.
Since arriving at VCU, Ravi has supported students’ efforts to develop an ethnic studies curriculum, and has supported the efforts of the student activists #BlackVCUSpeaks. He also introduced two new undergraduate courses in Political Science, African American Studies, and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies: Black Queer Politics and Black Political Activism. In Richmond, Ravi serves on the Board of Diversity Richmond, where in February 2017 he created and led the organization’s first-ever programing for Black LGBTQ History Month. He created the region’s first ever Black LGBTQ Gala, featuring a month-long self-portrait photo exhibit of area Black LGBTQ community members throughout RVA.
In March 2018, at VCU, Ravi is hosting the 46th annual conference of the Association for Ethnic Studies, featuring the theme: The Ongoing Struggle: Confronting White Neo- Nationalism, 21st Century Racism, and Settler Colonialism.
Since October 2017, Ravi, 35, now serves as the youngest, first-ever black, and first-ever openly gay chair of the department of political science at VCU.
In 2015, Ravi was named one of 50 “Hero Citizens” by the Andrew Goodman Foundation, an international civil rights organization committed to voting rights. In 2014, Ravi was awarded the Clarence Stone Young Scholar Award from the Urban Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. In 2014, Ravi was also awarded the Outstanding Book Award for Black Mayors, White Majorities from the National Association for Ethnic Studies. In 2011, he was recognized as one of the “Hidden 105” by Out Magazine and “40 Under 40” by Advocate.
2018 Organizational Involvement
Association for Ethnic Studies
NAACP, Richmond VA Branch