Short Documentary Films by Trinity Students Tell Stories of Local Hip Hop Pioneers

‘Hartford Hip Hop Digital Stories’ Screening and Discussion Held at Hartford Public Library

​Hartford, Connecticut, February 28, 2018—“Hartford Hip Hop Digital Stories,” a collection of short documentary films created by Trinity College students featuring local hip hop artists, recently screened at the Hartford Public Library’s Hartford History Center. The February 13 event also included a discussion with some of the student filmmakers and hip hop artists.

​(L-r) Yisbell Marrero '20, Giselle Galan '18, and Hartford hip hop pioneer Myron Moye. Photos by Jen Fiereck.
The project began when Associate Professor of History and International Studies Seth Markle, who teaches a course called “Global Hip Hop Cultures,” met with Trinity alumna Jasmin Agosto ’10, a staff member at the Hartford History Center. “She was in the early stages of creating a digital archive on hip hop in Hartford, and I wanted to make a contribution through my class,” Markle said. “The course was about more than a grade. We wanted to produce something for the community. The students’ work is going to be accessible to the people, who can learn about Hartford from a cultural, musical perspective.”

Markle’s design for his course began to take shape when he received a fellowship from Trinity’s Center for Teaching and Learning, which provided an opportunity for him to meet with other professors to discuss curriculum, exchange syllabi, and brainstorm ideas for assignments. He made changes to the existing “Global Hip Hop Cultures” course to take advantage of the opportunity for students to work with the Hartford History Center. “In rethinking the course, I wanted to combine oral history with digital storytelling,” Markle said. “As a historian, I’m very comfortable with oral history, but the technological component of digital storytelling was new to me.”

​(Above) Hartford hip hop pioneers, Trinity students, and consultants. (Below) Associate Professor of History and International Studies Seth Markle introduces the students' digital stories. Click here for more photos.

The 15 students enrolled in Markle’s class during the fall 2017 semester were tasked with creating a collection of short digital stories that featured seven of Hartford’s hip-hop pioneers: Myron Moye, Tony Villarini, Rick Torres, Juanita "Empress Nujuabi" Chislom, Dooney Bates, Janice Flemming and Mike "Nice" Wilson.

For the semester-long project, the students formed teams and selected a hip hop pioneer to work with. “My partner and I worked with Myron Moye,” said Jervon Adams Jr. ’20. “He seemed very open and honest, and he was really excited about the project. He helped to form The Master Poppers breakdance crew with Mike Nice.”

To complete their projects, students used resources and workshops offered by the Hartford Public Library and Trinity. “I worked with Mike Nice, who grew up in Hartford’s North End. I found a lot of material in the library archives, like pictures of his neighborhood from the 1980s,” said Kaytlin Ernske ’20. “I found newspapers from 20 to 30 years ago and saw pictures of things that I see in passing on an everyday basis. It was nice to make that connection.”

In addition to creating valuable content for the Hartford History Center, Trinity students explored the city of Hartford throughout the course, which was part of Trinity’s Community Learning Initiative. “Before taking the course, I had never really seen Hartford except for the areas around campus,” Adams said. “Myron brought us to see his recording studio in the South End, and we went to a restaurant in East Hartford. I learned about the city and the origins of hip hop in Hartford. There’s a lot of history here, and great things are happening all around the neighborhood.”

Click here to see the “Hartford Hip Hop Digital Stories” videos. These digital stories, as well as the full interviews in text and video form, will be part of the Hartford Hip Hop Digital Repository at the Hartford Public Library at 500 Main Street. For more information, click here.

Written by Lucy Peng ’18


Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.
Photos by Jen Fiereck. To view the full Flickr album of photos from which this slide show was generated, please click here.