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Regina Taylor hosts kickoff event in celebration of new Black Album Mixtape project

Kaelah Serrano
Regina Taylor talks with students about the project with Columbia College Chicago called “Black Album Mixtapes,” at 33 E. Ida B. Wells Dr., on Monday, Sept. 18, 2023. Taylor shares with students about the conversation that she hopes to spark when highlighting issues of representation.

In 2020, actress and playwright Regina Taylor started the Black Album Mixtape project at Southern Methodist University in the format of virtual performances for students to share discourse during the peak of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I was very moved by the outcome, by all the myriad of topics and way that people wanted to express themselves as well,” Taylor said,

Taylor is now bringing the project to Columbia to give students an opportunity to explore the theme of Stand Up, Speak Out” through a selection of artistic mediums, the Chronicle first reported.

Taylor returned on Friday, Sept. 22, for a kickoff session to have a more in-depth discussion about the project in the Music Center Concert Hall.

The Black Album Mixtape project will begin with a Black China Dinner Party on Monday, Oct. 9 in which attendees will be served blackened food in an atmosphere of music, dance and a monologue performed by the Theatre Department.

Submissions for the project will be open from Oct. 1 through Dec. 10.

Taylor is looking for four production assistants to work alongside her throughout the semester. Applications are live on Handshake.

Taylor said the Black Album Mixtape has a special place at Columbia due to Chicago’s “support of arts across the board.”

“I love Chicago, and we need creatives in this society. We need creatives so badly and to join that with the social consciousness,” Taylor said. “I’m really excited about what things spark out of this.”

Senior Associate Provost Nathan Bakkum, an associate music professor, said the importance and value of the project is about bringing Columbia together as a community.

“We have so much creative energy in this community,” Bakkum said. “It’s putting all of that variety of expression in dialogue around an idea so that dancers, journalists, marketing professionals, musicians, filmmakers, game designers are able to have that kind of dialogue with each other, all as members of the Columbia College community.”

Bakkum said several classes this semester will incorporate the project into their curriculum and students who are not in a participating class can expect information to be sent out soon.

Sophomore creative writing major Xylan Johnson said it was important that Taylor brought the project to Columbia.

“It’s important to uplift Black voices, especially because I’ve heard a lot of students mention that they don’t feel like there’s enough community here for us beyond scholarships or [a] couple shallow events,” Johnson said. “This is one of those events that as a student and a leader I would love to be a part of myself, because our voices deserve to be heard.”

Taylor highlighted the importance of allyship between peers during this project and in general.

“It’s about communication,” Taylor said. “It is with awareness that we enter into some conversations hopefully that can be had on this campus and beyond.”

First-year video game programming major Marina Atkin said art is a way of effecting change without being in a position of power.

“There’s so much that is going on in the world around us, people need to have their voices heard,” Atkin said. “They need to put themselves out there and tell the world hey, I’m here, I have problems, I need somebody to do something about them.”

The last event of the project will be a virtual block party celebration on Dec. 10. in which all submissions will be streamed with an awards ceremony for everyone involved.

“What I plan to do is inspire people to know that their voices matters,” Taylor said. “Owning your voice in this world, especially right now, matters.”

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About the Contributors
Vivian Richey
Vivian Richey, Assistant Campus Editor
vrichey@columbiachronicle.com   Vivian Richey is a sophomore journalism major, who reports on the college's Faculty Senate, Columbia's COVID-19 protocols and campus art exhibitions. She joined the Chronicle in January 2023.   Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
Kaelah Serrano
Kaelah Serrano, Photojournalist
kserrano@columbiachronicle.com   Kaelah Serrano is a junior photojournalism major. She has covered music festivals, campus art exhibitions and metro parades and protests. Serrano joined the Chronicle in January 2023.   Hometown: Chicago, Illinois