Legendary rapper Chuck D and scholar and author Gaye Theresa Johnson will give a free public talk on Wednesday, March 26, at 7 p.m. in Weinstein Auditorium. They will discuss music, social justice and the importance of critical situated knowledge in the 21st century as well as explore what it means to build a partnership as an activist couple. Carlos Rec McBride, lecturer in Latin American and Latino/a studies at Smith, will serve as facilitator.
Chuck D helped create politically and socially conscious rap music as co-founder and leader of the acclaimed group Public Enemy, which burst on the scene in the mid-1980s. Since then, Public Enemy has completed 86 tours in 85 countries and was celebrated in the May 2004 issue of Rolling Stone as one of the 50 most important groups in the history of popular music. In 2010, the group’s 1989 rap anthem “Fight the Power” topped VH-1’s list of greatest hip-hop songs. Chuck D has been a national spokesperson for Rock the Vote, the National Urban League and the National Alliance for African American Athletes and continues to work on commentary, music and writing on diversity, rap and reality issues.
Gaye Theresa Johnson is associate professor of black studies with affiliations in the departments of history and Chicana/o studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her focus is in 20th-century U.S. history, race and racism, and cultural history, with an emphasis on music. She is the author of Spaces of Conflict, Sounds of Solidarity: Music, Race and Spatial Entitlement in Los Angeles (University of California Press, 2013) and Women in Hip Hop: A Radical Herstory, which will be published by Haymarket Press. She has been a visiting researcher at Stanford University’s Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, as well as at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is also active with the Los Angeles Community Action Network’s struggle for housing and civil rights on LA’s Skid Row and is the 2013 recipient of the Freedom Now! Award for her efforts.
In addition to being a lecturer in Latin American and Latino/a Studies at Smith, Carlos Rec McBride is co-founder of TRGGR Media Collective, a nonprofit that celebrates global hip-hop culture, while acknowledging the challenges of the poor, people of color and the repressed.
Sponsors of the talk include numerous departments at Smith, Hampshire, Amherst and Mount Holyoke colleges; the University of Massachusetts Amherst; Five Colleges, Inc; and TRGGR Media Collective.