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A Conversation: Toni Blackman, Hip-Hop Ambassador

November 1, 2018 | Sophia Ramos

A Conversation: Toni Blackman


Toni Blackman enters a full University Room in Hyde Hall quietly and gracefully. She smiles at everyone, nods, and then ends 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,” says Blackman. “But, I am an invisible woman.”

Blackman is a hip-hop ambassador, a title that is backed up by the U.S. Department of State where she was the first hip-hop artist to be selected as a cultural ambassador. But that’s not her only gig. She is a highly respected social entrepreneur, actress, activist, and artist that is currently at the Carnegie Hall Weill Music Institute. This makes her the perfect guest speaker for the Next Level and Institute for the Arts & Humanities’ Women in Hip-Hop Series event on Wednesday, Oct. 24.

Blackman joined IAH Director Mark Katz for a conversation about pursuing creativity and using music to break down barriers for the Women in Hip-Hop series event. This event is rooted in the Next Level initiative of the U.S. Department of State, the University of North Carolina at 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 featuring 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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