Social Media Reacts to JAY-Z's Campus Visit

New York City-born rapper, songwriter, entrepreneur and philanthropist helped launch the Shawn "JAY-Z" Carter Lecture Series in the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies. 

Caroline Harting
February 08, 2020

On February 4, Columbia students, faculty and staff packed The Forum for the launch of Shawn "JAY-Z" Carter Lecture Series. President Lee C. Bollinger opened the evening and spoke about the excitement generated at Columbia around these lectures. He then introduced Farah Jasmine Griffin, chair of the African American and African Diaspora Studies (AAADS) department, who talked about the dynamic group of academics who make up the department, as well as the future of the lecture series. Noam Gottesman, co-host of the event and Columbia University Trustee, introduced JAY-Z, focusing on his philanthropic efforts for social justice, prison reform and access to education.

Jelani Cobb facilitated the conversation with JAY-Z, speaking on broad topics ranging from JAY-Z's early musical influences like Big Daddy Kane and the Sugar Hill Gang to his activist work at Mississippi's Parchman Prison through his philanthropy, Team Roc, and his relationship with the NFL. 

After the conversation, JAY-Z answered thoughtful (and thought-provoking) questions from students. Because there were so many students with questions, JAY-Z stayed late in order to hear from them. 

Amy Hungerford, Executive Vice President for Arts and Sciences and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, closed the night with a talk about JAY-Z's and Beyonce's contribution to contemporary cultural studies and then presented a video of Columbia and Barnard students dancing and singing to JAY-Z's "Empire State of Mind" at commencement. The legendary artist was cleared moved by the video. 

It was an incredible way to kick off the series. Below are some social media posts featuring video clips from the evening.

On How His Success Has Given Him Access and the Ability to Make Change

Do We Need to Abolish Prisons?

Thoughts on Social Media

Partnership With the NFL

Team Roc's Work in Parchman Prison