8/15/09: Ya Heard Me Conference Day 2 in Jackson MS/Kevin Powell’s Keynote Speech


Breakfast at Primo’s in Ridgeland (always good), and then I headed out to the flea market in Pearl to look for old records and Jackson State memoribilia (didn’t find much other than a couple of old Provine High School yearbooks). Events on the Jackson State campus got under way late because people had been out at clubs the night before, so I ducked into the bookstore to kill time and noticed racks of T-shirts announcing the historic football game between Mississippi State and Jackson State in September. I started to buy one, but then I noticed a book by former JSU president Dr. John Peoples, and I bought that instead. I was able to spend some time talking with Dee-1 and his manager, and then Charlie Braxton arrived, followed by Kevin Powell, the keynote speaker for the conference, who was formerly editor-in-chief of Vibe Magazine. After his early afternoon speech, he headed out with me, Charlie and Kamikaze to Cool Al’s in North Jackson, where we ate lunch. Although famous for burgers, I enjoyed the lemon-pepper chicken fingers and freshly cut french-fries.
Back on the Jackson State campus, there was a screening of a documentary about Mississippi rap, but the film upset a community organizer because it contained cursing, and he had brought his grandchildren to the event. He argued with the DJ from Mississippi Valley State that Black art should be appropriate for the elders and the children.
The afternoon panel that I was on almost didn’t happen because all the artists were over in the auditorium doing a soundcheck, but they eventually came back over to our panel, and we got underway.
Afterwards, Charlie, Kevin and I decided to go get pizza for dinner, and as we walked out of the back of the Student Center, the Sonic Boom of the South was practicing in the fields just to the north, with the War and Thunder drumline practicing their cadences. We had intended to eat dinner at Sal and Mookie’s Pizza in the Fondren nieghborhood, but they were overcrowded, so we headed to Soulshine Pizza Factory in Ridgeland instead. The food was great, and the conversation stimulating, and then we dropped Charlie back off at his house, and I dropped Kevin back off at the Jackson State guesthouse since he had an early flight back to New York the next day.
I found that the rap performances at the auditorium had ended, but something seemed to be going on on Gibbs-Green Plaza on the yard, so I parked and walked up there. The freshmen had arrived on campus, but some upperclassmen had too, and there were Sigmas doing a step routine near their benches as I walked past. At the Student Center end of the plaza, a DJ and turntables had been set up for what I supposed had been a “welcome back” party, but everything was winding down. I gave the DJ my business card, and then headed back out to the hotel.

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