Columbus Libraries celebrates 50 years of hip-hop and Black History Month

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Metropolitan Library hosted an event at the main library on Sunday to bring people together to celebrate 50 years of hip-hop and Black History Month.


What You Need To Know

  • The Columbus Metropolitan Library hosted an event at the main library on Sunday to bring people together to celebrate 50 years of hip-hop and Black History Month
  • Hip-Hop at 50: A Hands-on Experience with J. Rawls and Friends brought over 40 people and was moderated by Jason Rawls, a hip-hop musician, producer and assistant professor of hip-hop at Ohio State 
  • The event allowed participants to learn the history and culture of hip-hop, while getting a hands-on experience at the four key elements of hip-hop, which is being a deejay, an emcee, graffiti and b-boying, or breakdancing

Hip-Hop at 50: A Hands-on Experience with J. Rawls and Friends brought over 40 people and was moderated by Jason Rawls, a hip-hop musician, producer and assistant professor of hip-hop at Ohio State. The event allowed participants to learn the history and culture of hip-hop while getting hands-on experience with the four key elements of hip-hop, which are being a deejay, an emcee, graffiti and b-boying, or breakdancing.

“Hip-hop is a part of the community. The people that are involved in the culture are part of the community,” Rawls said. “So you know, I think it’s important for the people to understand it, to know where it comes from, to know how it originated and to know why it captures the hearts and minds of so many people throughout the country.”

The event lasted two hours and started with a quick lesson about the four elements.

Jason Rawls introduces the Hip Hop at 50: A Hands-on Experience with J. Rawls and Friends event at the Columbus Metropolitan Library on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024. The event was to celebrate 50 years of hip-hop and Black History Month while teaching the culture and history of hip-hop. (Spectrum News 1/AJ Hymiller)

Rawls said having hands-on experience is one of the best ways to learn the history and culture of hip-hop.

“You actually touch the culture, you get to be a part of it, you know it’s better than just talking about it. You actually get to feel it, which is the most important part,” Rawls said.

Wuan, 8, creates graffiti artwork at the Hip-Hop at 50: A Hands-on Experience with J. Rawls and Friends event hosted at the Columbus Metropolitan Library on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024. Graffiti is one of the four key elements of hip-hop. (Spectrum News 1/AJ Hymiller)

He said hip-hop is important to the American culture.

“It’s a part of American history, not just black history. People do things for Black History Month, but it’s not just Black History Month,” Rawls said. “The thing about hip-hop culture is it transcends. It is bigger than just saying, ‘Oh, it’s Black history,’ it’s American history.”

Rawls said it is important for people to celebrate the culture that hip-hop brings with it.

“It is a culture, and it’s important to people. It’s important to celebrate it as a part of black history, just because it is a part of black history, you know,” he said. “I think it’s important to recognize all of those angles, but I think it’s more important for young people to experience it and get to see what it’s like and understand that there’s more than just the rap that they see on TV.”

Destiny, 8, Marcia Harris and Cameron, 13, b-boying at the Hip-Hop at 50: A Hands-on Experience with J. Rawls and Friends event at the Columbus Metropolitan Library on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024. Participants learned the basics of b-boying, or breakdancing, in one 20-minute session. (Spectrum News 1/AJ Hymiller)

Rawls said people can always actively participate in preserving and promoting the legacy of hip-hop beyond yesterday’s event.

“Just find out places that are doing hip-hop and because the culture lives on, there’s more than just, you know, rap shows. There’s b-boy battles and deejay events,” he said. “There’s things where people can come out and actually learn how to deejay, and that kind of thing. So there are opportunities, people just have to seek them out.”

Rawls was approached to do this event by the Columbus Metropolitan Library as part of their Black History Month special events.

“The hip-hop at 50 program gave our customers a chance to learn more about the origins of hip-hop through hands-on experiences. They learned dance moves, scratched vinyl records and created their own rhymes and graffiti art with local hip-hop ambassadors,” Dorcas Taylor Jones, communication manager at the Columbus Metropolitan Library, said. “We want everyone to feel welcome in our locations and consider it a privilege to host events that are fun, educational and inspirational.”

“I mean it was incredible, you know, they approached me to do this event. And you know I’ll put it together with some real practitioners, people who really do this and I think that’s what made it a success. I think people enjoyed themselves,” Rawls said.

You can view more Black History Month events hosted by the Columbus Metropolitan Library here.

Oleatha Waugh, program manager for Franklin County Children Services, DeLayna Green, co-founder of ABC Black Iconic Figures, and Jason Rawls gather on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, to celebrate 50 years of hip-hop and Black History Month at the Columbus Metropolitan Library. (Spectrum News 1/AJ Hymiller)

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