On Friday, February 1, Hopkins was honored to host hip-hop artist and activist Jasiri X, to kickoff our celebration of Black History Month. Jasiri X uses his platform to speak on racial inequity in the U.S. and around the globe. At assembly he shared his journey, crediting his mom for changing the course of his life by moving their home from Chicago to Pittsburgh when Jasiri was in high school. When Jasiri began using hip-hop as a vehicle for activism to highlight injustice, many peers told him it couldn’t be done. Over the years he has proved them wrong, and was recently awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Chicago Theological School. He urged students to be their true selves and to speak out on issues that matter, saying “Follow your passion, your goals and convictions. Be your own authentic self, most importantly tell your own story, don’t allow anyone to do it for you.”
In two Q&A sessions and a workshop on the power of language, Jasiri delved deeper with students. They asked questions about civil rights, the criminal justice system, privilege and how to use activism to help bring about change. When asked about 1Hood, the artist/activist collective he cofounded in Pittsburgh, Jasiri shared their core mission to promote the unity of humanity, challenge inequality and raise awareness through art.
It was a powerful morning on the Hill, and we are grateful to Jasiri X for sharing his time, talent and perspective with us. Stay tuned for more Black History Month programming throughout February, organized by the Office of Equity and Community, the Black Student Union and the Hopkins Student Diversity Board.
Please watch video of Jasiri X’s assembly address below, including a special preview of a short film about Jasiri X and his activism work in St. Louis. We were one of the first audiences to see this short film, which will be released on his website soon.