Jan. 28: Hip hop artist, activist to speak at MLK celebration

By Steve Nakata, Administrative Services

Jasiri-X-smallPULLMAN, Wash. – Hip hop artist and community activist Jasiri X will deliver the keynote address during Washington State University’s free, public Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Celebration at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28, in the CUB ballroom.

Widely known for his politically engaged lyrics and music videos, the rapper uses hip hop as a vehicle to raise awareness about current events and discuss national issues.

Not only do his lyrics speak to the values of Martin Luther King, Jr., but he is active in helping youth in his community, said Maria de Jesus Dixon, manager of WSU’s Culture and Heritage Houses and chair of the MLK celebration planning committee.

“At a time when students across the country are urging their campuses to engage in ‘color brave’ conversations, Jasiri’s messages will prove timely,” she said.

He received two grants from the Heinz Foundation to help create the anti-violence group 1Hood Media Academy. 1Hood works with young African Americans to analyze negative media images and create constructive alternatives. He was the creative force behind the critically acclaimed Internet news series, “This Week with Jasiri X.”

Jasiri X surged onto the national stage in 2007 with his hit song “Free The Jena 6,” which was played on more than 100 radio stations and was named Political Song of the Year at the Pittsburgh Hip Hop Awards. He is the first hip hop artist to receive the August Wilson Center for African American Culture Fellowship.

Jasiri X.

He has two full length albums, American History X (2009) and Ascension (2013). His lyrics provide thoughtful commentary on the shooting of Travon Martin, the Tea Party, the Occupy Movement, immigration, poverty and more.

See a video of him speaking on a panel about hip hop, commercialism and activism at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NGD2Oo1nfA&index=6&list=FLz9f4VYYJf65DQnxYfEw-yA.

He has performed in cities across the nation and internationally. He frequently speaks at gatherings like the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) and recently spoke at Harvard University’s Hip Hop Archive and Research Institute.

In addition to Jasiri X’s speech, WSU’s celebration will recognize the annual MLK Distinguished Service Award recipients. Other events to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday will include a day of service on Jan. 18, the film “Selma” on Jan. 14 and an exhibit of photos from the 1965 Selma civil rights march taken by former WSU staff member James (Jim) Barker opening on Jan. 20. For details, please visit http://mlk.wsu.edu.


Maria de Jesus Dixon, WSU Culture & Heritage Houses manager, 509-339-6172, mdj.dixon@wsu.edu