Black History Month gets a star-studded kickoff at EMP

Seattle hip hop artist Draze performs his anti-gentrification anthem "The Hood Ain't The Same" at the EMP's Black History Month Kickoff on Saturday. (Photo by Jama Abdirahman)
Seattle hip hop artist Draze performs his anti-gentrification anthem “The Hood Ain’t The Same” at the EMP’s Black History Month Kickoff on Saturday. (Photo by Jama Abdirahman)

On Saturday night the EMP presented their Black History Month kickoff event “Through the Eyes of Art,” along with a special showcase featuring work from local artists and photographers called “The Value of Black Life.”

It was a full house with event tickets completely sold out — and for good reason. The stage was set for an inspirational evening with keynote speakers including city council member Bruce Harrell, former National Director of Youth Engagement at World Vision Derrick Wheeler-Smith, and Mayor Ed Murray. Next up were performances by local favorite Draze and hip-hop veteran Talib Kweli.

But a lot of locals less accustomed to the spotlight got to shine as well. I was honored to have my photos included in the “Snap to Action” display curated by the EMP Youth Advisory Board. The display focused on photographs of the recent Black Lives Matter protests across Seattle.

This was my first time having any of my photos on display in a museum. I couldn’t have ask for a better opportunity.

Activist Eddie Rye, Jr, who was instrumental in the renaming of Seattle's Empire Way to Honor Martin Luther King, Jr in the early 1980's, receives an award as "Servant of the People." (Photo by Jama Abdirahman)
Activist Eddie Rye, Jr, who was instrumental in the renaming of Seattle’s Empire Way to Honor Martin Luther King, Jr in the early 1980’s, receives an award as “Servant of the People.” (Photo by Jama Abdirahman)
Event participants checking out the "Value of Black Lives" art showcase.  (Photo by Jama Abdirahman)
Event participants checking out the “Value of Black Lives” art showcase. (Photo by Jama Abdirahman)
Draze, Mayor Ed Murray and others on stage for the creation of a time capsule honoring the Seattle hip hop scene. (Photo by Jama Abdirahman)
Draze, Mayor Ed Murray and others on stage for the creation of a time capsule honoring the Seattle hip hop scene. (Photo by Jama Abdirahman)
Event attendees listen to Derrick Wheeler-Smith's speech on racism, the value of black life, and police brutality. (Photo by Jama Abdirahman)
Event attendees listen to Derrick Wheeler-Smith’s speech on racism, the value of black life, and police brutality. (Photo by Jama Abdirahman)

The EMP has more Black History Month events through February. Full listing here.

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