Pierce Freelon is a hip hop artist, journalist and professor. He earned his bachelors degree in African and African American Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with highest honors and his masters degree in Pan-African Studies from Syracuse University. At UNC, Freelon developed a hip hop curriculum, which he has taken into high schools and universities from New York to New Delhi (see Blackademics.org/community for more information). Pierce is North Carolina’s former Hip-Hop Coordinator for the national voter registration organization Hip-Hop Voices, as well as the former Director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz’ Bebop to Hip-Hop program. He has taught as an adjunct professor at North Carolina Central University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the departments of Music, Political Science and African and African American Studies. Freelon is also a monthly contributor to the News and Observer’s Durham News.
Pierce has toured internationally in Ghana, India and Vietnam. He has performed and educated alongside such jazz greats as his mother, 6-time Grammy nominated Jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon, Herbie Hancock, Bob James, Earl Klugh, Patti Austin, Robert Glasper, Chris Dave and Derrick Hodge. He has also shared the stage with Hip-Hop legends such as Doug E. Fresh, Grand Master Flash, The Last Poets and Dead Prez. Pierce is the frontman of the live hip hop and jazz quartet, The Beast, alongside fellow Tar Heels, Stephen Coffman [drums], Eric Hirsh [piano] and Peter Kimosh [bass] (all graduates of UNC’s Jazz program). The Beast is active in several of Freelon’s hip hop education programs.
A hard working, quick witted, young woman from Miami FL, Danielle Andrews-Lovell is a first generation American who hails her cultural background from Trinidad and Tobago and Panama. Living by her favorite quote “Life is not defined by the number of breaths you take, but by the number times someone or something takes your breath away.” She plans to work on excelling in all of the things she enjoys from Latin dance to scholarly debate.
A recent graduate of Harvard University, with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemical Sciences and certification in health policy and Spanish, Danielle Andrews-Lovell has just started her first professional position as a program associate for Just Partners, a nonprofit consulting firm focusing in the areas of racial equity, international community health and development as well as promoting age inclusive communities.
In her free time Danielle enjoys perfecting her Latin dance style and hopes to take tennis lessons in the near future.
By day, Jarrett L. Carter works as Assistant Director of Public Relations at Morgan State University. By night, he is a freelance sports writer, cultural commentator and satirist.
A graduate of Morgan State University, Jarrett has written for a number of media outlets, including the Baltimore Sun and blacksportsnetwork.com. You can check him out daily at jarrett-carter.com
Deen’s commentary is informed by his research as a grad student in political communication at the University of Washinton, Seattle, as well as his self-identification as a staunch civil (but not fiscal) libertarian and progressive pragmatist. He also oversees the site’s visual identity and technical backend.
Olokun Shangol Olugbala
Olokun Shangol Olugbala, better known by his performance name of D. Noble, is a nationally renown poet/spoken-word artist that believes poetry and all art possess the potential to birth and nurture progressive change. Noble’s work is spiritually rooted and primarily explores the complex nuances of the Black experience and their larger social, political and economic implications.
Besides writing poetry, essays and publishing in independent periodicals, D. Noble is also an avid reader. He plans to transform his studies/practices of cultural nationalism, critical reading and writing into a permanent career as a higher learning professor, teaching and lecturing on/about African American literature. He is currently working on his Masters of Arts (MA) in African American Literature at North Carolina A&T State University and will pursue his doctorate once he has achieved his MA.
D. Noble is affiliated with the performing arts collective, Righteous A.I.M. and can be experienced featuring with them or by himself at numerous venues all along the East Coast. He has been invited to perform and facilitate residencies, lectures and workshops at numerous universities, high schools, middle schools, churches, mosques and other grassroots community events and initiatives.
D. Noble has shared stages with other nationally renown, HBO Def Poets: Terry Creech, Malik Salaam, Amir Sulaiman, Butta Fly Soul and Black Ice. Past performance highlights include opening up for KRS ONE, Floetry, The Last Poets and Kanye West. D. Noble has performed three times at the National Black Theatre Festival with the Cosby’s Show Malcolm Jamal Warner and HBO Def Poet, Helena D. Lewis. He has had the prestigious honors of being invited to perform at the fifth annual National Historically Black College & University Think Tank Symposium hosted at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, NC; performing at the 20 Year Anniversary of the MOVE bombing and Free Mumia Rally in Philadelphia, PA; and being a featured artist alongside bestselling and award winning authors, Patrice Gaines and Nikki Giovanni at the Charlotte Literary Festival in Charlotte, NC.
In 2006, at 20 years old, Kameelah graduated from Pomona College Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A in Public Policy Analysis, Africa/African Diaspora—a self-designed major. At 19 years old, she was nationally recognized as a Harry S. Truman Scholar and a Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellow for Aspiring Teachers of Color. Since age 12, Kameelah has taught, tutored and developed curriculum in environments ranging from schools for paroled youth to pre-schools in Soweto. This year she was admitted to the Harvard Graduate School of Education and plans to start alternatives schools grounded in radical pedagogy, DIY culture, youth political organizing. She is also the founder of ‘poeticdispatch press,’ a self-publishing press for interactive educational tools. Currently, she is a Fulbright Scholar in Johannesburg, South Africa researching neoliberalism and urban redevelopment efforts. In Johannesburg, she organizes with a local worker’s rights effort, collaborates with a relocated squatter community in Lehae/Soweto and researches international prison abolition efforts.
While in the States, she campaigned against mandatory minimums and helped develop a resource library for paroled women in Watts,CA. Kameelah continues to work remotely with Critical Resistance, a national prison abolition organization and artistically collaborates with the incarcerated through the Buildbloc Artist Collective. A part-time b&w digital photographer, graphic designer and ‘zinester, Kameelah creates works that encourage political engagement and imagination.
Kameelah is guided by the imperatives of social justice found in her identification as a hijabi Muslim of African descent from a working class family.
B. Neil Creque Williams was graduated from Duke University in May of 2006. He majored in Public Policy studies with a minor in economics and a film/video/digital certificate. An aspiring filmmaker – Neil is currently working on a documentary presently entitled “The Silver Rights Movement” about minority business development in Durham, NC.
At Duke, Neil’s 2-minute short about the copyright implications found in Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me” was a finalist in the international Full Frame and Duke Law Moving Image Contest.
Beginning in January of 2005, Neil attended film classes at the University of Southern California. Outside of the classroom, Neil worked as a production assistant on a number of music videos and commercials through Ridley Scott and Associates Films. As a production assistant, Neil was able to work for music video directors like Marc Klasfield (Jay-Z’s “Girls, Girls, Girls”) and Sam Bayer (Green Day’s “Wake Me Up When September Ends”).
In 2005, Neil Williams created CrequeVision Entertainment, a production house that produced a number of short films, music videos and documentaries for Duke organizations like the Black Student Alliance, Cable 13, Duke’s NPHC and the Center for Documentary Studies. Neil’s film, “In The Know,” a documentary about an African-American owned bookstore in Durham, received the Hal Kammerer student filmmaker prize in 2006.
Neil also received a Benenson Art Award from Duke University to begin work on the current documentary entitled “The Silver Rights Movement.”
In 2006, Neil participated in the Full Frame Fellowship program through Duke University and the Full Frame Festival.
He looks forward to a career as a filmmaker who uses various storytelling forms (i.e. documentary, short film, narrative) to broaden the representation and stories of African-Americans in film.
Tisa Silver is financial journalist from Prince George’s County, Maryland. She is a two time graduate of the University of Delaware, holding a B.S. in Finance and Economics (2001) as well as an MBA (2003). Tisa served as an Instructor of Finance at her alma mater for four years and is now pursuing professional certification as a financial planner.
Tisa is an author for Investopedia and The Business Channel of b5media. She has also provided financial market analysis to several live television news programs including Comcast’s Art Fennell Reports and WHYY’s Delaware Tonight.
Tisa is also the Founder and CEO of the Good Works Coalition, a non-profit organization in Delaware which promotes the importance of charity, wisdom and independence through active community involvement.
M.K. Asante, Jr. is an award-winning author, filmmaker, and professor who the Philadelphia Inquirer calls “a rare, remarkable talent that brings to mind the great artists of the Harlem Renaissance.”
The author of three celebrated books, Asante is the recipient of the 2009 Langston Hughes Award. His latest book, It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop, was hailed by the Los Angeles Times as “An empowering book that moves you to action and to question status quo America.” His other books are the award-winning poetry collections, Beautiful. And Ugly Too and Like Water Running Off My Back, winner of the Academy of American Poets Jean Corrie Prize.
An acclaimed filmmaker, Asante wrote, directed and produced The Black Candle, a film narrated by Maya Angelou and winner of Best Documentary at the Africa World Documentary Film Festival.
Asante also wrote and produced the film 500 Years Later; winner of Best Documentary at the Pan African Film Festival; Best Documentary at the Bridgetown Film Festival; Best Film at the Black Berlin Film Festival; Best International Documentary at the Harlem International Film Festival; and the Breaking the Chains award from the United Nations.
Asante studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, earned his BA from Lafayette College, and an MFA from the UCLA School of Film and Television.
Born in Zimbabwe and raised in Philadelphia, Asante has shared his work in Africa, Europe, South America, the Caribbean, and throughout the United States. In addition, he has appeared on numerous TV and radio programs including the CBS Early Show, NPR, Tom Joyner Morning Show and Chuck D’s On The Real. His articles have also been widely published including in USA Today, Black Arts Quarterly and the San Francisco Chronicle.
As an advocate and activist for social justice, Asante supports and works with progressive grassroots organizations and movements around the world.
a “business man” and “a business, man”, short, balanced, black, youthful, thoughtful, unconventional, thought provoking, blessed, risk taker, motivator, impulsive, oxymoronic, organizer, left footed, school taught, social, observer, nice guy, some formal education, challenger, nomadic, virgo, political, selfish, tastemaker, leader, mature, single, right handed, hard-nosed, creative, disciplined, forgetful, principled, misanthrope, thinker, manager, underdog, community schooled, confident, rational, music lover, team builder, corny, legal, community minded, vegetarian, quiet, nj to va to nc to nc to dc to nyc to nc now in dc …
Russell Simmons presents HBO Def Poetry Jam, the Hip Hop Theater Festival, p. Diddy’s Bad Boys of Comedy and the National Black Theater Festival, Hayti Heritages Center’s annual spoken word and hip hop festival (Durham, NC), Groove Gumbo’s urban arts showcases (DC), Harlem Week’s Art In the Park, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Arena Stage’s legendary Living Stage Theatre, The Hip Hop Theatre Junction, North Carolina Black Repertory Company and established Washington, DC’s longest running open mic event, The Movement.
New projects include being the Dir. Of community relation w/ the African Continuum Theatre, a weekly party called “JUST BCUS”, a think tank, and KLUNGE KREATIVE, creative consulting projects.
Weusi’s passion and zeal for the arts is balanced with his formal and informal work with D.C.’s youth and community. Through agencies such as Centronia, Hope and A Home, National Capital Coalition to Prevent Underage Drinking and For Love of Children, Weusi engaged in youth and family programming as well as team/community activities and experiential education programming.
Samanthé A. Eulette, a senior international relations major in Syracuse University is a recipient of the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship. Ms. Eulette is also alum of the Princeton Junior Summer Institute program, a seven-week intensive pubic policy and analysis summer program with an additional focus on quantitative skills (statistic and economic courses). Eulette is a SU Dean’s Scholarship recipient, dean’s list student and member of Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society, where she serves as president. During the academic year, Eulette also worked in the Office of the Senior Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs and served as a Resident Advisor. For her junior year, Samanthé studied abroad in Washington, D.C. and in Strasbourg, France. In France, she interned at the United States Consulate in the Public Affairs Office. One of her responsibilities included updating the Consular General with current events in Strasbourg pertinent to the US. Prior to studying in France, Samanthé interned at the National Endowment for Democracy, World Movement for Democracy in DC for the fall 2005 semester.