Youth activist Reverend Eugene Franklin Rivers, III was born on April 9, 1950 in Boston, Massachusetts. Rivers spent his early years in Chicago where his parents, Mildred Bell Rivers and Eugene F. Rivers, Jr. were members of the Nation of Islam. His father, as Eugene 3X, designed the masthead for Muhammad Speaks.
Mentored by Reverend Benjamin Smith of Philadelphia's Deliverance Evangelistic Temple, Rivers graduated from Dobbins Vocational High School in 1968. He studied painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, while becoming active in street level organizing and black church politics. In 1970, Rivers was a part of the Black Economic Development Conference working with Muhammad Kenyatta. He joined Lucius Walker and James Forman in the Reparations Movement. He attended Yale as an unregistered activist from 1973 to 1976. Officially admitted to Harvard University in 1976, Rivers was mentored by Dr. Martin Kilson.
Recognized as one of the most effective crusaders against gang violence, Rivers founded Azusa Christian Community in 1984 in the Four Corners section of Boston's inner city Dorchester neighborhood. As President of the National Ten Point Leadership Foundation, he is working to build new grassroots leadership in forty of the worst inner city neighborhoods in inner city America. Rivers has appeared on CNN's Hardball, NBC's Meet the Press, PBS's Charlie Rose, BET's Lead Story, and National Public Radio, among other programs. He has been featured or provided commentary for publications such as Newsweek, The New Yorker, The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Herald, and the Boston Globe, as well as periodicals such as the Boston Review, Sojourners, Christianity Today, and Books and Culture.