Event practicum students hold 4th annual Fresh Connect virtually

By Mateusz Janik, Staff Reporter

Vicki Lei

Since 2017, students enrolled in Columbia’s Events Management Practicum have hosted the Fresh Connect event series as a celebration and in-depth look at the history of hip-hop and its various elements.

However, with most classes being completed remotely and the pandemic worsening across Illinois, these Business and Entrepreneurship Department practicum students have spent the majority of their semester putting together the next installment of the series while also changing the format to a virtual setting.

Beginning last night—Wednesday, Dec. 9—and continuing tonight, practicum students are hosting the Fresh Connect: Volume IV virtually and raising donations for Kuumba Lynx, a local hip-hop arts education organization established in 1996 with programs in schools and community centers around Chicago.

“A lot of people in the class didn’t know a lot about hip-hop and at first they wanted to just take the class to learn how to put on a live event,” said Alexis Smith, a graduate student in arts management and a marketing producer for the event. “Of course the world has changed, and you wouldn’t expect them to have to put on a virtual event, let alone a virtual hip-hop event.”

Even with the unexpected circumstances, Smith said the class was still able to develop the virtual event alongside professors from the school’s hip-hop minor and focus it around five elements of hip-hop: DJing, break dancing, graffiti, emceeing and cultural knowledge.

Jaquanda Saulter-Villegas, co-creative lead at Kuumba Lynx and former Columbia student, said she has maintained relationships with professors and worked with the Events Management Practicum and those in the hip-hop minor on each Fresh Connect event over the last four years.

“When you’re offering a minor in hip-hop it makes sense to get out of the institution and get into where hip-hop exists, which is in the community,” Saulter-Villegas said.

Kuumba Lynx will also perform as part of the Fresh Connect Exhibition Showcase tonightDec. 10from 6-7 p.m. with graffiti artist and alum BboyB. Other artists will include junior music business major T Star Verse, Amina Norman Hawkins, DeadstockV1, OutPastMidnight, DJ A-Lista, DJ Illanoiz, Edwin Campos, Yams, Pep-C and BRAVEMONK.

On Dec. 9, Khalid Long, assistant professor in the Theatre Department, was scheduled to moderate the Each One Teach One Panel with panelists including David Mays, founder of the Source Magazine; Kenard Gibbs, Midwest vice president of Black Entertainment Television; Jabari “Naledge” Evans, artist and research fellow at the Northwestern University Center on Media and Human Development; and Chicago radio personality and producer Khrishna Lynese Henderson-Hutchinson, aka “First Lady.”

Long said the goal for the panel was to be an open discussion about how hip-hop has changed over the years, with panelists talking about its influences and issues surrounding the art and the future of the community and fielding questions from the audience.

“If you’re not having a conversation with the people in the room, then it’s a lecture,” said Henderson-Hutchinson, program director, personality and mixer at 95.1 FM. “And I don’t do lectures.”

The Fresh Connect: Volume IV will be streamed on its website via Twitch.