WMU exhibit, film festival showcases hip-hop history

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — An exhibit at Western Michigan University is taking a look at the history of hip-hop.

The Lewis Walker Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations at Western Michigan University is showcasing the history of the art form.

According to the director of the institute, Dr. Luchara Wallace, the exhibit provides information on some of the most influential hip-hop films.

“Understanding the elements of the beginning of hip-hop is something that I think transcends just one generation or just one race or gender or ethnicity,” Wallace said.

Artifacts from an exhibit on the history of hip-hop at Western Michigan University. (Feb. 12, 2020)

Organizers are also holding a film festival and are having some of the artists involved with the projects make appearances for discussions.

The exhibit is part of a bigger plan to preserve hip-hop history.

“Our goal is to establish Michigan’s first hip-hop archive,” Wallace said.

WMU student Jasmine Jordan, who works with the institute, is in awe of how hip-hop’s popularity has grown. 

“I listen to a lot of French hip-hop,” Jordan said. “To see it like go global is crazy.” 

Shimonta Dickerson, an employee of the institute who helped put together the exhibit, says the work by curator Dr. Khalid el-Hakim has been a hit.

“People don’t know what to expect when they actually come and view, so when they come in here, they are absolutely wowed,” Wallace said.

Organizers hope the archive will have a lasting impact for generations to come.

“It’s the preservation of culture because if you don’t have a way of preserving people’s experiences, people’s journeys, then you’re lost.” 

The exhibit can be viewed during the month of February Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

For information on film screenings and speakers, visit the institute’s Facebook page.

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