Community center brings black history awareness through hip-hop

The Jack McLean Community Center hosted its first “Our Culture, Our History” event on Wednesday to bring awareness to black history through hip-hop culture.

More than 75 community members attended the event, which included live performances, a book drive and food provided by a local bistro.

James Harding Jr., assistant community center supervisor, said that the goal of the event was to shed light on African-American history and culture from a hip-hop perspective.

Ayla Madison, a member of the Working Young Ladies Doing Numbers organization, led the book drive. More than 300 free, gently used books were available for community members of all ages. The book drive was a way to put books that weren’t being read to good use.

“A lot of times, people will get a book, read it once and let it collect dust,” Madison said.

African drummer and dancer Chi Nuru, wood artist David Ritchie, jazz band Ice Cold and poetry group Heroine were a few of the many artists highlighted at the event. Each of the artists represented a different perspective of hip-hop culture.

The artists’ performances shed light on topics from gender equality to African culture. Heroine stressed the fact that the group’s name represents female heroes and feminism while Chi Nuru’s performance took music back to the basics.

The Curators of Hip-Hop played a major part in the event. This event kicks off the organization’s three-day hip-hop community initiative in Tallahassee. The initiative includes partnering with Florida State University’s sociology department to premiere “The Curators of Hip Hop.”

Jermaine Fletcher, co-founder of Curators of Hip-Hop, said the organization’s goal is to meet the needs of the community it’s in.

“If there’s a need to be met, we try to somehow not only do an event, but also do something to benefit a local organization,” Fletcher said.

Shelby’s Bistro provided the food for the event. Guests were given samples of Shelby’s dishes after the program, including garlic Parmesan shrimp, curry chicken bites, cinnamon crumb cake and more.

“Everything here is cooked without butter and no saturated fat,” said Shelby Smith, owner of Shelby’s.