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Photo credit: MARVIN JOSEPH



Dr. Natalie Hopkinson is an award-winning writer, cultural strategist and Associate Professor of Media, Democracy & Society at The American University in Washington, D.C. She is the author of three books that use Black and Indigenous art, history, communication, and knowledge systems to ask questions about citizenship, belonging, and freedom. She was formerly staff writer, editor and columnist at the Washington Post, The Root, and Huffington Post, and has contributed to The New York Times, The Guardian and Slate. In 2019, she co-founded the Don’t Mute DC political and cultural movement. She was appointed to serve as an inaugural member of the “Culture Caucus” of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Folklife Network of the National Endowment for the Arts, and the District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities.  




Her book-length works include A Mouth is Always Muzzled (2018, The New Press), Go-Go Live (2012, Duke University Press) and Deconstructing Tyrone with Natalie Y. Moore (2006, Cleis Press). Her writing was recognized by the Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards, PEN-America, and the Independent Publishers Association, SPIN Magazine, The Washington Post, among others.

The Capstone Group, the D.C. Commission on Women, and The Poverty & Race Research Action Council named her a “flame of inspiration” and “cultural influencer” and “voice for racial justice.” District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser proclaimed Nov. 5, 2021 “Pushy Woman Day” in Washington, D.C. to honor her success challenging white supremacy and entrenched political interests in the arts as a member of the District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities. 



Dr. Hopkinson specializes in building bridges between cultural communities in and 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 demonstrated how go-go, Washington, D.C.'s indigenous music genre,  provided a voice to generations of Black Washingtonians and a soundtrack for 20th century 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 co-led a coalition of artists, scholars and advocates who shaped the 2020 Go-Go Official Music of the District of Columbia Act, which vacated local 1980s laws and policies that targeted and criminalized go-go. She later served as chief architect of a $3 million plan for Covid-19 pandemic relief to go-go artists and preservationists. 


She collaborates with governments, 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 storytelling methods.

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