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From the President

From our esteemed faculty to our students and alumni, Howard University’s impact on hip-hop culture continues to resonate in ways, big and small.

by Ben Vinson III, PhD
Pres vinson

President Vinson on his way to Opening Convocation, where he served as keynote speaker.

Dear Howard University Community,

It is an honor and privilege to deliver greetings inside the pages of the prestigious Howard Magazine! This award-winning publication has been crucial to furthering our historic institution, spotlighting the everyday brilliance that constantly radiates from all of you. I truly admire those dedicated to ensuring that this periodical is among the best in higher education, and I am excited to witness your continued growth in both prestige and readership over the coming years. Thank you for allowing me to play a small part in your creative process; I look forward to offering more reflections in the editions to come.

For my first letter as the University’s president, it is fitting that we are paying tribute to hip-hop. I grew up listening to hip-hop as it developed in the early days. My memories of D.C. remain just as fresh in my mind today as they were in real time. Once considered an iconoclastic art form, hip-hop has now become synonymous with mainstream American society, wholly inextricable from our perception of what it means to be “cool” in this country. From our esteemed faculty to our students and alumni, Howard University’s impact on hip-hop culture continues to resonate in ways, big and small. We would be remiss if we failed to commemorate the myriad contributions of our community to the art form on such a meaningful anniversary.

As a scholar of the African diaspora, it is especially important for me to note hip-hop’s worldwide impact over the past 50 years: how the genre and the culture have captured the imaginations of millions across the globe. According to media research firm Nielsen, international artists have created more than 100 subgenres of hip-hop since its inception. While that number is certainly mind-blowing, it makes sense considering hip-hop’s reputation for self-expression and artistic freedom. From the countries of Latin America to the continent of Africa to the shores of Asia, hip-hop has become a conduit for liberation for the masses, a transformative crusade for the creation of a more just and equitable world. It is exhilarating to consider how much hip-hop culture has changed us over the past half-century, and it will be even more exciting to watch how its universal language will continually break barriers and build bridges in the next half-century ahead.

I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the hip-hop community and all who have contributed to its growth and evolution. Thanks to each of you for being a part of the Howard University community, where the celebration of diversity and the pursuit of excellence are at the core of our mission. Together, let us honor the enduring legacy of hip-hop and its profound impact on our world.

Committed to Truth and Service,

Ben Vinson III, PhD


This story appears in the Fall 2023 issue.
Article ID: 1766

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