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Tuesday, February 25

Brookdale Newsroom

Public Enemy Legend and Museum Founder Teach Students about History
Richard Griffin, better known by his stage name “Professor Griff,” speaks to Brookdale students at a recent Black History Month event in the Student Life Center. Griffin is an American rapper, spoken word artist and lecturer.

“Revolution is not an event, it is a process,” said Public Enemy group member Richard Griffin, as he inspired students to take responsibility for their futures by learning about their history, during his visit to Brookdale Community College on Thursday, January 31.

Griffin, who is most commonly known as “Professor Griff,” shared his experiences as a member of the group Public Enemy, a popular 80’s era hip-hop group, known for their social and political consciousness-raising lyrics. The group was strongly inspired by the resilient spirit of activists who endured social injustices. Speeches by Malcom X, Martin Luther King Jr., and South African activist Steven Biko are a few of the civil rights legends that inspired their music. Public Enemy’s songs are still recognized today as anthems of political change and continue to impact the hip-hop culture and the world.

Griffin came to Brookdale with Khalid el Hakim, founder of the Black History 101 Mobile Museum, which provided students the opportunity to learn more about American history, from slavery to Civil Rights, by examining a compilation of artifacts.  The Mobile Museum included such items as KKK hoods, slave chains, and discriminatory African-American children’s books.

el Hakim’s inspiration to create the Mobile Museum came about after hearing a speech given by Minister Louis Farrakhan at the Million Man March, while still a student at Ferris State University. Farrakhan asked attendants to do all they could to make a difference in their communities. With the encouragement of his sociology professor Dr. David Pilgrim, el Hakim started to collect artifacts from all over the country. Today there are over 5,000 artifacts in the museum, including documents from Alex Haley, Rosa Parks, Booker T. Washington, Farrakhan, and more. The mission of the mobile museum is to engage students with their history by bringing the artifacts to them.

Brookdale student Jehtro Morinvil was impacted by the event. “I had the opportunity to see and hear Professor Griff of the legendary, iconic hip-hop group Public Enemy. It was great to see him and hear him talk about various interesting subjects on Black history and the influence that hi-hop music has made on us today,” Morinvil said in a Facebook post. This event was the first is a series of events at Brookdale celebrating Black History Month. Visit the calendar of events on Brookdale’s website to see a list of upcoming events.

Manilla: In his lecture, Professor Griff pointed out one of the objects from the Mobile Museum - a tiny piece of metal that looked like a small horseshoe, called a manila (pictured here). He explained that it was used as currency to purchase slaves. “Five manilas,” he noted, “could purchase a family of slaves.”

Manilla: In his lecture, Professor Griff pointed out one of the objects from the Mobile Museum – a tiny piece of metal that looked like a small horseshoe, called a manila (pictured here). He explained that it was used as currency to purchase slaves. “Five manilas,” he noted, “could purchase a family of slaves.”