Emil Wilbekin was born in 1968 in Cincinnati, Ohio. His father, Harvey, had just left his first career as a structural engineer with the city to attend law school and enter private practice, and his mother, Cleota, was also an attorney. Wilbekin is an Editor, Journalist, Media Professional, Content Curator, LGBT Activist and Founder of Native Son. He's former Editor-In-Chief of VIBE and GIANT Magazine, former Managing Editor of ESSENCE.com and former Editor-At-Large at ESSENCE. In 1989, Wilbekin graduated with his B.S. degree in Mass Media Arts from Hampton University. He went on to receive his M.S. degree in journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 1990. In 1992, Wilbekin became a founding editor of Vibe magazine.
Wilbekin has served on the boards of LIFEbeat - The Music Industry Fights AIDS, The Stonewall Foundation, the American Society of Magazine Editors, the Design Industries Fighting AIDS (DIFFA), and the Black AIDS Institute. His honors include the Pratt Institute’s Creative Spirit Award, the Howard University Entertainment, Sports, and Law Club Media Award, The Anti Violence Project’s Courage Award, and The Hetrick Martin Institute’s Emory Award. Out magazine named Wilbekin as one of 100 most influential gay people in America in 2002, and he was inducted into the Hampton University Mass Media Arts Hall of Fame in 2007.
The Kiburi Awards will be given at the Cincy Black Pride Virtual Kickoff on Friday, June 26th 7:30PM - 10:00PM EST.