WPU hosts Hip Hop Symposium

hip hop mainphoto

By Christian Branch

For the first time in William Peace University history, a “Hip Hop Symposium” was hosted on campus. The symposium was implemented by Stephanie Reed, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, and Janelle Jennings-Alexander, Assistant Professor of English. 

“The overall experience of the symposium for me was exhilarating and satisfying,” said Stephanie Reed. “I say this because the complexity and size of the event was more than I had imagined when I first thought of creating it with Janelle Jennings Alexander.” 

The Hip Hop Symposium created an opportunity for the WPU community to be educated, enlightened, and inspired in the era of hip hop. It initiated the process of opening the doors to a deeper understanding of the impact hip hop has on the world and how it educates people in the process.

“From the first day I heard about the Hip Hop & Higher Education Symposium I was so excited,” said Chelsea Hayes, WPU Assistant Director of Student Involvement. “Having such a special event on our campus that discusses just how connected hip hop and the academy are really shows the WPU and Raleigh community that we value innovation and diversity.” 

The Hip Hop Symposium was the first in history for William Peace University. The Symposium brought a change to how people see and view Hip Hop and the way that it is involved in society.

“In the magnitude of the event, I am pleased overall,” said Jennings-Alexander. “I think we made a impression to the community. As we start to establish ourselves as a institution that host these kind of events regularly I look forward to more people being involved.”

The Hip Hop Symposium event on campus included different sessions throughout both days. The sessions included:

  • “Hip Hop as a Vehicle or Change and Social Justice” 

During this event, participants had the opportunity to explore ways to how Hip Hop inspires growth and change through conflict.

  • “Modern Social Identities and the Hip Hop Artists”

This session allowed participants to learn various identities through Hip Hop and how those identities disrupt the conventional understanding of people, places, products, and practices.

  • “Possibilities for Empowerment through Hip Hop” 

Participants were able to imagine the possibilities to how Hip Hop is seen and functions that act as a vehicle for action rooted in resistance, justice, hope and growth throughout this session.

  • Conversations on the Business of Hip Hop

Participants were able to sit in on a interview and discussion on the topic of the realities of entrepreneurship with Ogden Payne, Ibrahim Hamad (J. Cole manager and President of Dreamville ) and Sascha Stone Guttfreund (Producer of Dreamville)

  • Beefing and Rappin

Community dialogue on Hip Hop’s Provocative Visualization of race, gender ,sexuality, government, equity, and justice.

  • Keynote Address Marc Lamont Hill

Participants had the opportunity to hear the thoughts of Dr. Marc Lamont Hill on the discussion of how to critically interrogate Hip Hop as a culture. Dr. Hill has author several books on Hip Hop. As a culturally relevant pedagogy, Dr.Hill provides a unique assessment to Hip Hop both performative and intellectually.

In the words of Marc Lamont Hill, “Hip Hop is a way of Culture. To understand Hip Hop, you must understand Hip Hop on its own terms. Black Culture is an experience and production.” 

The Hip Hop Symposium was a two day event leading up to the biggest event in Dorothea Dix Park history, “Dreamville Fest.” WPU was a sponsor and educational partner for the festival. 

“It was so amazing to attend the first ever Dreamville festival and to see William Peace University as an official sponsor made me beam with pride as an alumni and employee,” said Peace Alumni and Annual Giving/Engagement Coordinator, Maya Bryant. “I am so proud to be a part of an institution that supports staff, faculty, and students to think outside of the box in this way!  It’s also pretty cool to have J. Cole’s Dreamville Festival happen the next day!”

Hip Hop is more than a genre, it is culture.  Hip Hop tells a story.

WPU students recreated the history of hip hop for the opening of the Hip Hop Symposium. Photo by Ana Teresa Galizes. See photos of Dreamville Festival on the WPU Facebook page.