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This is the second portion of a three-part essay covering my trip to Boston, Massachusetts with members of Fire In Little Africa. To read pt. 1, click here.
GREENWOOD Dist.– On the first evening of Fire in Little Africa’s (FILA) trip to Harvard, the documentary screening displayed in addition to a panel with six album participants. The FILA documentary showing was held in the school’s graduate education building and was Harvard’s introduction to Fire In Little Africa.
Executive Producer of FILA, Stevie Johnson, Ph.D., (Dr.View), was announced as one of three Nasir Jones HipHop Fellows at Harvard in the early portion of 2022. His work with FILA is partly the reason he received the fellowship with legendary Hip-Hop artist Nas. Although he is from Long View, Texas, he claims Black Wall Street as home.
“I represent Black Wall Street,” Dr. View said before the documentary viewers. “I was having the conviction in my spirit of, how am I going to be able to go to Harvard representing Black Wall Street, and Black Wall Street is not there?”
He was successful in raising enough money for his family, the album participants, seven fourth and fifth-grade musicians, and one parent to be flown to Boston, along with lodging.
Dr. View carefully crafted the documentary screening as the first of three events. The film and panel laid the foundation for his colloquium discourse the following day, which preceded the historic performance later Wednesday evening.
On the second day, FILA took a tour of Harvard’s campus just before Dr. View gave his Colloquium discourse at the humanities center. Producers and camera operators from Oprah’s OWN were present to film his discourse for their documentary on Black Wall Street.
FILA Got Something To Say
Professor Dr. Regina Bradley, an alumna of Nasir HipHop Fellow and southern Hip-Hop enthusiast and author, introduced Dr. View to a standing ovation. She charismatically and gracefully spoke of him while wearing an OutKast shirt under a professional blazer.
“Not only is it one Black geniuses’ day- pointing at Dr. View- it’s also OutKast Day,” she said. She spoke to the irony of his discourse being on the exact same day as the debut of OutKast’s classic album “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik,” which was released 29 years ago.
An ode to Fire in Little Africa
At the 1995 source awards, Andre 3000 famously said “The South Got Something To Say,” in response to the heavy east coast bias within the music industry at the time.
Dr. View considers Oklahoma as the South, which influenced the track, “North Tulsa Got Something To Say.” For the next hour and twenty minutes, he gave an unapologetic, unrestricted, and uncensored statement of what FILA has to say, including the censorship by City of Tulsa officials and Motown.
Dr. View opened his discourse with a letter:
“Dear Harvard, Little Africa is on fire, still. Today’s colloquium is written in the form of a love letter; to my community, for my family, to Fire In Little Africa, to my best friend, Fire In Little Africa La Familia, Alumnus of Harvard University, and now ancestor, Turner Cooper, Mr. (He, Him, His).”
He mentioned the 50th anniversary of Hip-Hop and referred to Oklahoma as the “best kept secret in Hip-Hop” and the best scene on the planet, also giving them thanks for trusting him to lead, learn and support them as they lovingly articulated the truths about the happenings of 1921, even to this present day.
“This for the Town, ‘Town Town Town,'” he said. “This is for our ancestors, and future ancestors. Everything Is Us. This is for the Souf – with an f- we still got something to say.”
“But it’s also for me, and as someone who prides himself living with humility, grace, love, it’s hard for me to center self, but the work requires it. And the only way I know how to do it is by telling my story. So let’s have some storytelling.”