Photo credit: MARVIN JOSEPH
Dr. Natalie Hopkinson is an award-winning writer, media and cultural strategist, and Associate Professor of Media, Democracy & Society at The American University in Washington, D.C. She is the author of three book-length essays that use Black and Indigenous art, history, and knowledge systems to ask questions about belonging and freedom. She was formerly a staff writer, editor and columnist at the Washington Post, The Root, and Huffington Post. In 2019, she co-founded the Don’t Mute DC political and cultural movement that challenged white supremacy in public life. She was appointed to 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.
Natalie Hopkinson's books 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, 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 entrenched special political interests in the arts.
Dr. Hopkinson specializes in building bridges between cultural communities in and beyond the Ivory Tower. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and earned a B.A. in political science from Howard University, where she later spent several years as a member of the doctoral faculty in Communication, Culture in Media Studies. She earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in journalism and public communication from the University of Maryland-College Park. Her 2007 doctoral dissertation explored the ways in which go-go, Washington, D.C.'s indigenous music genre and culture, challenged norms, resisted colonization, and served as a major political voice for Black Washington.
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 demonstrations in the streets and online to fight back against gentrification and cultural erasure. She co-led a coalition of artists, scholars and advocates who shaped the DC Law 23-51 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. She believes everyday people can use these tools to amplify their voices and build a world where everyone is heard, everyone belongs, and everyone is free.
Want to collaborate? Email BairdHenryCreative@gmail.com
"Electric Dreams" , 2020 with her mother, Serena Hopkinson.
A White Supremacist Mess (2021)
The Color of Art: Mapping White Supremacy in the Nation’s Capital. (2021)
More on Policy Successes of Don’t Mute DC
Read about Natalie's tragic 2021, The year of Superpowers
Text of the Republic Lecture on "The Role of Art in Citizenship" delivered in Georgetown, Guyana in February 2018
Archive of Huffington Post columns (2018)
The New York Times
Booker’s Bad History October 17, 2017
Apple Comes to Washington May 12, 2017
Farewell to Chocolate June 23, 2012City
Why School Choice Fails Dec 5, 2011