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Black Twitter Activism, Bigger Than Hip Hop

#sxsw #blktwttr

In the late 1980s, Public Enemy rapper and Internet aficionado Chuck D famously remarked that hip hop was like the “black CNN,” speaking on the “lower frequencies” cited in Ralph Ellison’s "Invisible Man" about issues in African-American communities like the War on Drugs, sex and relationships, poverty and police brutality. As social media has become the default medium for gathering and disseminating information, Twitter posts provide the steady bass beat that continues to inform on similar topics, but with more portability and immediacy than ever before. This panel will examine how so-called “Black Twitter” exchanges news (like the Trayvon Martin case as a recent example) and uses it to mobilize political dialogue and direct action, and how information professionals--like librarians, journalists, and educators--can guide users toward responsible practices that respect the unique coding and cultural perspectives of black and other minority communities.


Mark Anthony Neal Professor Duke University

Meredith Clark Ph.D. student University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

In my former life I was a copy editor, editorial board member and opinion columnist. These days I'm working on my dissertation @UNCJSchool, which focuses on mass media and user characterizations of #blktwtr. I'm uncomfortable referring to myself in third person.

Stacie Williams Librarian/Archivist

Analog-born, digital-bred librarian cum archivist cum dun-language translator. Library work includes reference work at Harvard University's medical library, Transylvania University, and the as a news librarian. Archives work includes the Jim Henson Company and the Chicago Defender.