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Dr. View completed his Ph.D. in 2019 at the University of Oklahoma. His 250-page dissertation, accompanied by a 25-track album earned him the 2019 Bobby Wright Dissertation of the Year Award for the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE).
Despite the dissertation’s academic acclaim, he could not find a job in education. Two months after graduating, an opportunity came to work for the Woody Guthrie Center and Bob Dylan Center as the manager of education of diversity and outreach in Tulsa.
During the interview process, he felt compelled to ask about their plans to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre.
“There was a certain level of conviction in my spirit that consumed me,” he said. “My spirit would continually speak to me, ‘View, don’t forget about Greenwood, don’t forget about Black Wall Street, don’t forget where you come from.'”
Upon finding out there were no plans, he conditionally accepted the position on the premise they allowed him to create something that represents Black Wall Street and what happened in 1921.
“I presented a non-negotiable that I would accept the job only if they allowed me to develop a communal multimedia hip-hop album, documentary, curriculum, and a podcast to commemorate the lives lost in the 1921 Tulsa race massacre,” Dr. View said.
They agreed, and Fire In Little Africa was born.
Reparations and Censorship
Dr. View mentioned a term called “Interest Convergence” during his discourse. It states that Black people only achieve success in life when it’s in the interest of White people. When FILA initially met with funders of the project, a scholar, and an artist, Written Quincey asked if they would be censored. The response was, “Ain’t this Hip-Hop?”
Part of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution includes “Free Speech.” So, why was the original FILA music video for the song “Reparations” never released?
The Mayor of Tulsa’s office got wind of the video and prohibited FILA from releasing it due to graphic lyrics aimed at him. The song and video were scheduled to be released on The Breakfast Club, a syndicated radio show based out of New York, but it was canceled, too.
Motown also did not want the video released unless its logo was removed from the video.
The “Reparations” video is merely a form of artistic expression, and it got censored because it would have shown the mayor in a “bad light,” despite him being on record saying that he does not support reparations for Tulsa Race Massacre survivors.
Two years later, “Reparations” was shown at Harvard. It was a full-circle moment. “Today we share the video to pay homage to the visionary behind the song, Veu7o, aka St. Dominic, but also to share what was taken away from Fire In Little Africa, very similar to 1921.” Dr. View said.
FILA’S Historic Performance
Fire In Little Africa is the first collective hip-hop group to perform on Harvard’s campus. The performance was exhilarating. The drummer brought in the music with a four-count on the hi-hat.
“Harvard University how we doing?…They brought me out here to talk my shit,” Hakeem Eli’juwon said before doing his opening verse to “Elevators.”
Song after song, the performances were unapologetically Black. Not a single curse word, phrase or epithet went unsaid. Each artist passionately performed their part of the song, while the documentary and videos of the singles were displayed on the screen in the background.
Each instrument had its time to shine on various songs, but the violin carried the pain from 1921 to Harvard, yet the emotion was still one of joy. Some artists sang as I have never heard them sing before, and some rappers rapped as I have never seen them rap before (breath control), and the poets performed soulfully as their words reverberated throughout the room as they told our story of The Race Massacre.
Some of the best performers of the night were the students from Solid Foundation Preparatory Academy (SFPA). They blended in perfectly with the band during their three performances and received a standing ovation at the end of their last performance.
Jayme Broom, Founder of SFPA gave Dr. View high praises for bringing the students to Boston. She mentioned her appreciation for him keeping his commitment to bring the students and believed the opportunity to be great exposure and life experience for them.
The performance ended on a high note, with all the artists coming to the stage for the final performance, “Party Plane.” The scene felt like the director of a movie said “cut” and everybody rejoiced for all the hard work that had been put in.
Little Africa is on fire, still.
This has been more than 100 years in the making. Little Africa is on fire, still. We done crying. We done watching. A new fire is burning!
I would like to give a personal thank you to Mama Sunny, Dr. V, Dr. Cho, and Dr. Stovall for the Harvard Hospitality.
Rest In Love, Tuner Cooper, (He, Him, His.)