By Zoe van Buren
With Patrick Suarez, Matthew Yockonhawken Nickens, and Sandra Davidson
Powwow morning was perfect in Ahoskie. It was early October, and the first chill of autumn was in the air—not a chance of rain. As the overcast morning gave way to blue skies above the Meherrin Tribal Grounds—set between the Bells Branch of the Potecasi Creek and Highway 11 as it stretches from Ahoskie to Murfreesboro—Patrick Suarez and Matthew Yockonhawken Nickens were setting up the thirty-second annual Meherrin Indian Nation Powwow.
But the powwow grounds were empty. The perfect forecast did not matter. This year, Meherrin Powwow was nowhere. And yet it existed everywhere.
This new multimedia project from Come Hear NC, created by hip-hop scholar Kyesha Jennings, documents how North Carolina hip-hop artists are using music to address contemporary forms of racial injustice. Inspired by Genius lyric videos, Jennings asked the five hip-hop artists cited above to perform and then analyze one of their politically conscious verses. The videos will premiere at this two-part virtual program hosted by Mike Williams, of the Black on Black Project. During each program, Williams will also engage the artists in conversation about how their music breaks down gun violence, police brutality, and inequities in education.
Today the North Carolina Arts Council announced that $100,000 will be distributed as grants to 17 nonprofit arts organizations of color. Recipients of the awards and other North Carolina arts organizations of color are invited to attend the BIPOC Arts Equity Forum, a virtual event that will be presented on Friday, November 20, from 2–4 p.m. (BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.)