University sponsors 'Hip-Hop and Social Justice' conference

Georgia State University hosted a conference this week exploring the role that “rap music and Hip-Hop culture” play in education, politics, and social justice.

The “Behind the Music: Hip-Hop and Social Justice” conference, which took place Monday and Tuesday, offered panels on issues including “Politics and Atlanta Rap,” “Hip Hop Education and Academia,” and “Hip Hop and Social Justice Issues.”

Hosted by the GSU Political Science department, the conference featured a number of speakers, including Dr. Bettina Love, whose work focuses on how urban youth negotiate hip hop music, and Dr. Lakeyta Bonnette, who teaches classes on topics including hip hop and Black political behaviour.

[RELATED: Georgia prof integrates rapper Kendrick Lamar into classroom]

Bonnette elaborated on the relationship between hip hop and social justice in an interview with Campus Reform, asserting that “Hip Hop is ultimately a voice for the unheard and marginalized” because “those who suffer most from social injustices fall within the categories of unheard and marginalized.”

Beyond serving as a voice for marginalized people, Bonnette said hip hop is also an agent for social change.

”Hip Hop recently has fought against social injustices in a number of ways including the creation of programs, foundations, and initiatives,” she said, citing examples such as the Hip Hop Summit Action Network and the Hip Hop Caucus.

She also noted that hip hop songs serve an important role in educating people about political issues, mentioning songs such as “Georgia Bush” by Lil Wayne along with the TI songs “War Zone” and “New National Anthem.”

“These are only a few of the ways in which Hip Hop fights against social injustices,” Dr. Bonnette told Campus Reform.

[RELATED: Rap is aligned with conservative principles, says pundit]

The Chair of the Political Science Department, Dr. Carrie Manning, told Campus Reform that she was excited her school hosted the conference.

“We wanted to bring attention to the work of local scholars and educators, activists and artists, and connect them with our students,” she explained. “We want our students to be educated, engaged citizens and the panelists for this conference are all doing innovative work that contributes to that.”

Spokespersons for GSU did not respond to queries from Campus Reform regarding funding for the conference, which invited at least eight speakers.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen