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A Conversation: Toni Blackman, Hip-Hop Ambassador

November 5, 2018
Institute for the Arts and Humanities

Toni Blackman entered a full University Room in Hyde Hall quietly and gracefully. She smiled at everyone, nodded, and then ended her silence by grabbing a microphone and making her entrance with a few profound words.

“See, I rock the mic as he did. I spit rhymes as he did. I bore hip hip as he did,” said Blackman. “But, I am an invisible woman.”

Blackman is a highly respected social entrepreneur, actress, activist, and artists currently in residence at the Carnegie Hall Weill Music Institute. As the first “hip hop ambassador” selected by the U.S. Department of State, she traveled to Angola, Brazil, Canada, Europe, and Southeast Asia supporting the U.S.’s cultural outreach efforts.

On October 25, Blackman joined IAH Director Mark Katz for a conversation about pursuing creativity and using music to break down barriers as part of the Women in Hip-Hop series event. This event is sponsored by the Next Level initiative, which is run jointly by the U.S. Department of State, UNC-Chapel Hill and Meridian International Center. Its mission is to use hip hop music, dance and art to foster cross-cultural creative exchange in diverse communities. It brings people together and encourages greater understanding through the universality of music as a form of creative self-expression. Katz, IAH director and a professor in the Department of Music, has been awarded over $3 million to spearhead the Next Level program.

“A Conversation: Toni Blackman, Hip-Hop Ambassador” was the first Women in Hip-Hop series event this fall and yielded a large audience of students, faculty and the general public. The Institute for the Arts and Humanities is honored to host events like Women in Hip-Hop, which encourages  conversation and engagement in the arts.

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