Diversity Institute

Project 400

Project 400

Setting the Record Straight: Don't Believe the Hype — Hip Hop @ 50

Date: Friday, February 23 and Saturday, February 24, 2024
Time: 10:00am-2:30pm (Both Days)
Location: Cleveland State University Student Center Ballroom, 3rd Floor, 2121 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115
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Zoom Access: Friday, February 23, 2024 | Saturday, February 24, 2024

About This Event | Keynote Speakers | Panelists | Moderators | Performing Artists | Sponsors

About This Event

This is the fifth annual Project 400 Conference, titled Setting the Record Straight: Don't Believe the Hype — Hip Hop @ 50. Project 400 began in 2019 as a year-long observation of when the first Africans were brought to the British Colonies in North America in 1619. This two-day conference will further examine the contemporary challenges African Americans face, highlighting the obstacles that have been overcome while identifying those that remain. The conference will examine the contributions, contradictions, and complexities of Hip Hop at it's 50th anniversary as it coalesces with the structural and institutional burdens of misinformation and distortions in America's present-day social and political discourse. 

Dr. Ronnie A. Dunn; Executive Director, The Diversity Institute, CSU
Dr. Tawanda Greer-Medley; Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology, Associate Director, The Diversity Institute, CSU

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Kevin CokleyDr. Kevin Cokley; Associate Chair for Diversity Initiatives & Space Management and University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan

Kevin Cokley, Ph.D. is the University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor and Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan where he serves as Associate Chair of Diversity Initiatives for the Department of Psychology. Previously he was Chair of the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas, where he held the Oscar and Anne Mauzy Regents Professorship for Educational Research and Development. He has been a Fellow of the University of Texas System and University of Texas Academy of Distinguished Teachers, past Director of the Institute for Urban Policy Research & Analysis, and Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies.

His research and teaching can be broadly categorized in the area of African American psychology, with a focus on racial identity and understanding the psychological and environmental factors that impact African American students’ academic achievement. Dr. Cokley studies the psychosocial experiences of African American students and students of color and is currently exploring the impostor phenomenon and its relationship to mental health and academic outcomes.

He is the past Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Black Psychology, holds the title of Distinguished Psychologist and received the Scholarship Award from the Association of Black Psychologists. He is President of the Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity, and Race, and was elected to Fellow status in the American Psychological Association for his contributions to ethnic minority psychology and counseling psychology. He is the recipient of the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award, the Charles and Shirley Thomas Award for mentoring ethnic minority students, and the 10 Rising Stars of the Academy award by Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

He is author of the 2014 book “The Myth of Black Anti-Intellectualism” that challenges the notion that African American students are anti-intellectual, and editor of the 2021 book “Making Black Lives Matter: Confronting Anti-Black Racism.” He has written several Op-Eds in major media outlets on topics such as critical race theory, Blacks’ rational mistrust of police, the aftermath of Ferguson, police and race relations, racism and White supremacy, the importance of ethnic studies, and racial disparities in school discipline. His research has been recognized in media outlets including the New York Times, USA Today, and Inside Higher Education.

Bakari KitwanaBakari Kitwana; Author, Activist, Educator, Executive Director of Rap Sessions

Bakari Kitwana is an internationally known cultural critic, journalist, activist, and thought leader in the areas of hip-hop and Black youth political engagement. The Executive Director of Rap Sessions: Community Dialogues on Hip-Hop, which for the last seventeen years has conducted over 150 townhall meetings around the nation on difficult dialogues facing the millennial generation, Kitwana has been the Editor-in-Chief of The Source magazine, the Editorial Director of Third World Press, and co-founder of the 2004 National Hip-Hop Political Convention. In 2020, during the height of Covid-19 Pandemic, he cofounder of the Hip-Hop Political Education Summit, which convened two major virtual gatherings.

The author of the groundbreaking books The Hip-Hop Generation (2002) and Why White Kids Love Hip-Hop (2005), Kitwana is co-editor of Democracy Unchained: How to Rebuild Government For the People (The New Press, 2020) and the collaborating writer for pioneering hip-hop artist Rakim’s memoir Sweat The Technique: Revelations on Creativity From The Lyrical Genius (Amistad/HarperCollins, 2019).

Currently a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the University of Buffalo, Bakari has been the 2019-2020 Nasir Jones HipHop Fellow at Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, Artist-in-Residence at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago, and a visiting scholar at both Kent State University. A former Columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Kitwana has contributed writing to numerous publications and anthologies, including the 2021 New York Times best-selling anthology 400 Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 (Edited by Ibram Kendi and Keisha Blain, One World/Random House, 2021).


Stan Donaldson, BA; Director of Media Relations, Norfolk State University

Kevin “Chill” Heard, BA; General Manager, Column Post

Kareem Henton; Co-Chair Black Lives Matter Cleveland

Paul Hill, LSW; Founder, National Rights of Passage Institute, and Co-Publisher of the Black Child Journal

Dr. Douglas Hoston; Assistant Professor, Urban Education Social and Psychological Foundations, School of Education, Buffalo State University

Los P; Teaching Artist, Refresh Collective in Cleveland

Mwatabu Okantah, MA; Professor and Chair of Pan-African Studies at Kent State University and Poet

Dr. Leah Schell-Barber; Assistant College Lecturer, Department of Marketing, Cleveland State University

Dr. Donna Whyte; Lecturer, Cleveland State University, and Former Director of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and Interim Director, Black Studies Program, Cleveland State University


Dr. Tawanda Greer-Medley; Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology and Associate Director of The Diversity Institute, Cleveland State University

Dr. Gillian Johns; Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies, Oberlin College

Prester Pickett; Coordinator, Africana Studies, Cleveland State University

Dr. Victoria Winbush; Emeritus Professor of Social Work, Cleveland State University

Performing Artists

Raja Freeman; Poet, Teaching Artist

Siaara Freeman; Poet, Teaching Artist

Los P; Teaching Artist, Refresh Collective in Cleveland

Visual Artists

Kezia Pearson; Educator and Artist, Buffalo Public Schools



Cleveland City Council
St. Luke's Foundation


100 Black Men

Akron Cleveland Association of Realtors​​​​