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Presentation to feature anti-sexist
activist Byron Hurt

RELEASED: Oct. 23, 2009

Byron Hurt
Byron Hurt

EAU CLAIRE — "Beyond Beats and Rhymes: An Evening with Byron Hurt" will be presented Thursday, Nov. 5, at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Byron Hurt, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and anti-sexist activist, will speak at 7:30 p.m. in Zorn Arena.

Hurt addresses provocative topics such as race, gender and violence through his films, writings and lectures. He will begin the evening with a screening of his acclaimed 2006 film, "Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes," an hourlong documentary that examines masculinity, sexism and homophobia in hip-hop culture. Delivering what he describes as a loving critique of rap music, Hurt pays tribute to the power and creativity of hip-hop, while challenging the rap music industry to take responsibility for glamorizing destructive stereotypes of manhood in general and perpetuating negative myths about African American males in particular. Critically acclaimed for its fearless engagement with issues of race and racism, gender violence, and the corporate exploitation of youth culture, the film is as entertaining as it is educational.

"In the wake of Byron Hurt's searing documentary 'Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes,' hip-hop fans have questioned the retarding effect that hip-hop has had on young black men through encouraging thuggish violence, misogyny, clownish behavior and crude materialism," cultural critic Stanley Crouch wrote last year. "Hurt's documentary is most powerful because the filmmaker himself is a fan of the idiom but, as a grown and responsible man, he felt it was necessary to call out hip-hop's many shortcomings because the idiom had moved from clever rhymes and dance beats to advocating personal, social and criminal corruption."

Featuring revealing interviews with famous rappers including Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Fat Joe, Chuck D, Jadakiss, Busta Rhymes, and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, "Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes" premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. It aired nationally in 2007 on the Emmy Award-winning PBS series "Independent Lens" and drew an audience of more than 1.3 million viewers. The film has been selected to appear in more than 50 film festivals worldwide, and the Chicago Tribune named it one of the best documentary films of 2007.

In addition to being a filmmaker, Hurt is a nationally respected activist and longtime gender violence prevention educator. The former Northeastern University football quarterback was a founding member of the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program, a college-based rape and domestic violence prevention initiative for college and professional athletics. He also is the former associate director of the first gender violence prevention program in the United States Marine Corps.

Hurt has lectured at hundreds of campuses, presented at numerous professional conferences and trained thousands of young men and women on issues related to gender, race, sex, violence, music and visual media. His essays or interviews have been published in a number of books and numerous media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Variety and O, The Oprah Magazine. He also has appeared or been heard on CNN, Access Hollywood, MTV, BET and ABC News World Tonight. His most recent documentary, "Barack & Curtis," examines how the media and public view masculinity in Black men by comparing and contrasting President Barack Obama and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson.

Admission is $8 for the public, $6 for UW System or Chippewa Valley Technical College faculty and staff, and $2 for UW System or CVTC students. Tickets are available at the Service Center in the east lobby of Davies Center and will be sold at the door. Patrons also may charge their tickets to MasterCard or Visa when ordering by phone. Call 715-836-3727 or, outside the immediate Eau Claire area, 800-949-UWEC. A $3 handling fee will be added to all telephone charge orders.

The presentation is co-sponsored by the University Activities Commission of the Student Senate and The Forum.

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JS/DW

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