2020 International Conference

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Keynote Speaker

Pierce Freelon

CMN is thrilled to announce Pierce Freelon as our Keynote speaker for the 2021 International Conference!

Photo: Pierce Freelon

Pierce’s Keynote to our CMN audience, “Bloom Where You’re Planted: How purpose, place and patience create abundance” will delight, educate and energize us on Friday, October 8th at 8:15 pm CT both in person (if feasible) and virtually through the CMN Annual International Conference, Chicago, IL.

As if being a charismatic speaker, professor of African-American Studies, community advocate, Emmy-winning producer, accomplished hip hop artist and City Councilman of his hometown of Durham, NC were not enough, Pierce Freelon’s greatest roles turn out to be that of father and youth mentor.

Growing up in an artistic family (father, architect; mother, jazz artist), Pierce’s household was often visited by intellectuals, poets, and artists who left lifelong impressions on the young man. His father’s advice has motivated much of his youth-focused work: “As artists, (our) job in this world (is) to bring beauty and...joy to other people.” This led Pierce to eventually create Blackspace, a digital makerspace where he mentors youth in storytelling through media and music. More recently, he co-founded the Beat Making Lab, an Emmy-winning web-based PBS series where youth are provided training, equipment, collaboration with world cultural centers, and a global audience.

One of the goals of his genre-mixing family music is to help change the perception that Black fathers are distanced from child-rearing: “If we’re going to change negative stereotypes and misconceptions about Black folks, we need more children’s music artists who look like me” to “spread more positive images of Black fathers” as playful and nurturing parents.

Pierce lives in Durham, NC where he serves on the City Council.