Dr. Cornel West, Jeff Chang Headline Hip-hop Conference

Mar 29, 2021

The virtual event will be April 13 and April 15, featuring two panels that will explore issues surrounding politics and social justice.


Jeff Chang (left) and Dr. Cornel West

Groundbreaking author and professor Dr. Cornel West will join author and cultural critic Jeff Chang as the featured speakers at Cal U’s 15th Hip-hop Conference, which will be held virtually April 13 and April 15. 

West and Chang will present “Hip-hop, Social Justice, Politics and the Pandemic” at 6 p.m. April 13. Visit https://calu.zoom.us/j/93794858647 to join the webinar, which will be moderated by Dr. Ayanna Walker, associate professor and director of Cal U’s Frederick Douglass Institute. 

At 6 p.m. April 15, a panel of experts will consider “What’s Next for Hip-hop — Artistically and Academically?” 

Presenters will be MyFavoriteColor, a national recording artist who attended Cal U; Bryon Turman, professor of hip-hop studies at North Carolina A&T; Dr. Jessica Spradley, a sociology instructor at Cal U; and Dr. Wil Boone, professor of Black studies at Winston-Salem State University. 

Visit https://calu.zoom.us/j/94138717578 to join the webinar, moderated by Dr. Kelton Edmonds, professor, director of African American Studies at Cal U, and creator of the Hip-hop Conference. 

“The annual conference allows speakers and audiences to evaluate the evolving artistry and multi-layered impact of hip-hop, which was born in the Bronx and rapidly emerged into a global phenomenon,” Edmonds said.  

“Through the lens of hip-hop we are able to engage on a number of significant issues surrounding culture, economics, politics and social justice.  Accordingly, this year’s conference will specially examine hip-hop’s ability to encourage racial discourse, its emergence in university curricula, its trajectory into the 2020s, and its impact on the recent national elections.” 

About the keynote speakers 

Dr. Cornel West is a professor of public philosophy at Harvard University and is professor emeritus at Princeton University. He has written 20 books and has edited 13. Though he is best known for his classics Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, his most recent book, Black Prophetic Fire, has received critical acclaim. West is a frequent guest on the “Bill Maher Show,” “Colbert Report,” CNN, C-Span and “Democracy Now.” 

Full bio 

Chang’s first book, Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, garnered many honors, including the American Book Award and the Asian American Literary Award. Slate named it one of the best nonfiction books of the past 25 years. A revised young adult edition of the book — co-written with legendary hip-hop journalist Dave “Davey D” Cook — was published in 2021.  On a number of recent televised appearances, Chang has offered compelling analysis on the current wave of violence targeting Asian Americans. 

Full bio  

About the conference 

Cal U’s  Hip-hop Conference at Cal U returns for its 15th year after being postponed in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. It features well-known hip-hop artists and activists who explore the significance of hip-hop culture. Past conferences have focused on the genre’s history and evolution; the criminal justice system; and sports, hip-hop and race. 

The conference is sponsored by African American Studies, the Frederick Douglass Collaborative, the American Democracy Project, the Department of Humanities, the College of Liberal Arts and Education, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Black Student Union, Cal U Women United and the offices of the Provost and President.