Natalie Hopkinson, Ph.D., is a writer, scholar, activist and Associate Professor of Media,
Democracy and Society at The American University. Described as a “dynamic connector of
people and ideas,” she uses Black and Indigenous art, history, and knowledge systems to ask
questions about citizenship, belonging and freedom.
The Poverty & Race Research Action Council, The Capstone Group, and the D.C. Commission on
Women proclaimed her a “voice for racial justice,” “flame of inspiration,” and “cultural
influencer.” A mayoral proclamation declared Nov. 5, 2021 “Pushy Woman Day” in the nation’s
capital to honor her success challenging white supremacy and powerful, entrenched political
interests in the arts.
As a journalist, she has held staff positions as an editor, writer and columnist at
The Washington Post, The Root, and Huffington Post. Her book-length essays on the arts and
history include A Mouth is Always Muzzled (2018), Go-Go Live (2012) and Deconstructing
Tyrone (2006). Her writing was recognized by the Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards, PEN-America,
and the Independent Publishers Association, among others.
She specializes in building bridges between cultural communities beyond the Ivory Tower. She
holds a B.A. in political science from Howard University, where she spent several years as a
member of the doctoral faculty in Communication, Culture in Media Studies, as well as an M.A.
and Ph.D. in journalism and public communication from the University of Maryland-College
Park. Her pioneering 2007 doctoral dissertation on go-go music examined how this D.C. art
form provided a voice to generations of Black Washingtonians and a soundtrack for American
urban history. Since 2019, her work as a co-founder of the Don’t Mute DC Go-Go Music and
Culture movement activated thousands of people in musical protests in the streets and online.
She helped lead a coalition of artists, scholars and advocates who shaped the 2020 Go-Go
Official Music of the District of Columbia Act. She later served as chief architect of a $3 million
plan for Covid-19 pandemic relief to go-go artists and preservationists. Mayor Muriel Bowser
subsequently appointed her to the District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and
Humanities, where she pursued a bold equity agenda that flipped the tables on Eurocentric arts
policy in the District of Columbia.
She speaks to and collaborates with schools, libraries, museums, and other cultural
organizations to design projects that engage general audiences through oral history, archival,
digital humanities, mapping, and other cross-disciplinary theories and methods. As an inaugural
member of “Culture Caucus” of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, she
curated public programs on arts policy, social media, dance history, and the healing power of
Want to collaborate? Email NHopkinson @ Hotmail and follow her on Twitter @nathopkinson