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Smart Talk, March 12



Hip-hop at Harvard


This weekend, one of Arkansas rap's finest represents in the Ivy League. On Saturday, March 14, Adrian Tillman, 29, and better known as Little Rock rapper 607, will participate in a panel discussion as part of the Harvard Law School's Black Law Student Association's spring conference.

The discussion, entitled “The Bizness behind the Business,” is aimed at high-risk teens and geared toward a frank discussion of the music business. The panel is co-sponsored by the Hip Hop Entertainment Law Project, a group created to use the music industry and hip-hop to motivate students to stay in school. Two major label music industry execs will join Tillman on the panel.

It'll be the rapper's first time in Cambridge, but only the latest addition to what might be the most impressive resume in local music. Since 2007, he's released 31 albums. He's performed, he guesses, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 shows. He's toured on both coasts and in Russia. He's been a mentor in the youth program Hip-Hop school. And last year, he won the Times Musicians Showcase and appeared in the CNN documentary, “Black in America.”


Treasure in jeopardy


The March issue of Smithsonian magazine puts Centennial Baptist Church in Helena on a list of “endangered must-see cultural treasures.” The church was built in 1905 by two men who'd been born in slavery, Rev. Elias Camp Morris, the church pastor, who would become a nationally known black leader, and Henry James Price, a self-taught architect. Centennial was the first black church in America designed by a black architect. Marian Smith Holmes of Smithsonian writes, “Centennial emerged as a center of leadership and a beacon of pride for the African American community.” The last service at the church was held in 1998, and the building has fallen into disrepair. A volunteer group, the E.C. Morris Foundation, was formed to save the church. In 2006, the foundation received a $300,000 federal matching grant, but apparently has been unable to raise the required matching funds. The grant has not been used, and preservation efforts have stalled.


Twits from the right


Looking for a place to vent your anger over President Obama's efforts to pull the country out of the vortex? Express some anti-union sentiment? Get a rush by finding the link to register for “I Want Obama to Fail”? Embrace other Karl Rove fans? Go no further than the Batesville Chamber of Commerce's Twitter. Jonah Shumate, the head of the chamber, who maintains a separate Twitter account in the same vein, said the chamber Twitter represents the position of the chamber in that it represents the views of the businesses in Batesville. Gary Ennis, a realtor in Batesville and a member of the chamber board, agreed. Ennis said he didn't exactly want Obama to fail because “that would mean America would fail,” but that most of the people in Batesville think the president's policies will be the ruination of the country. 


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