Remembering the Life and Art of Toni Morrison and Nipsey Hussle

Founders+Maria+Gates+and+Joe+Gardina+talked+about+the+Nipsey+hussle+book+club+at+the+Toni+Morrison+and+Nipsey+hussle+tribute+on+Feb.+12%2C+2020.+Photo+credit%3A+Derrick+Coleman

Founders Maria Gates and Joe Gardina talked about the Nipsey hussle book club at the Toni Morrison and Nipsey hussle tribute on Feb. 12, 2020. Photo credit: Derrick Coleman

Daniel Suarez Jr., Staff Writer

Cerritos College students and faculty hosted a tribute to West Coast rapper, Nipsey Hussle and author, Toni Morrison, on Feb. 12 at the Liberal Arts Building.

The event educated attendees about the life and work of these two artists, while also providing a space for some students to share their own written tributes and read excerpts from Morrison’s books.

English instructor, Damon Cagnolatti, led the event and detailed the work and motivations of these two artists, along with pointing out the intersecting ideas they shared.

Cagnolatti noted that the tribute was inspired by the tidal wave of black art and music that followed the death of Nipsey Hussle.

“Throughout LA and other communities you can see murals and street art highlighting the impact (Hussle) had made,” said Cagnolatti.

Both Morrison and Hussle had influences on black culture, and Cagnolatti hoped that discussing their work can bridge the divide between hip hop and literature.

Nipsey Hussle was an LA-born rap artist first known for his 2005 mixtape Slauson Boy Vol. 1. He released several popular titles afterwards such as The Marathon (2010) and Crenshaw (2013). His 2018 release Victory Lap was the last in Hussle’s discography.

Through his entrepreneurship and community activism, Hussle was able to fund countless projects for schools and extracurricular activities for disadvantaged youth to enjoy.

According to the video, Hussle would also make public commentary on what he felt were important to the black experience.

In doing so, Hussle learned more about his identity, and brought that self-awareness back to his community while also allowing it to influence his music.

His charity work and philanthropy was nonetheless inspired by his love for his people.

The event also featured pair of guest speakers from the Nipsey Hussle Book Club.

This club is localized in and focuses solely on the literature in Nipsey Hussle’s personal reading list.

Founders Maria Gates and Joe Gardina shared their own tributes and described that their way of honoring Hussle after his death was to continue his work in the community.

They began the Nispey Hussle Book Club in Crenshaw, where members read the books that he read, also providing a constructive activity for youth in that community.

“This is our tribute to Nipsey but also our tribute to our community,” said Gardina, “since we saw that the knowledge from those books created the man that Nipsey Hussle was, they must be able to do the same for us as well.”

Hussle was shot and killed outside of his clothing store off of Slauson Ave. on March 31, 2019. He was 33 years old.

Toni Morrison also passed away last year, but not before leaving a legacy of countless novels, essays and earned achievements.

Her writing included depictions of African American characters living through real-world experiences.

Morrison’s literature earned her the Nobel Peace Prize and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

In 2012, President Obama awarded Morrison the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Netflix has announced that they will feature a Nipsey Hussle documentary film directed by Ava DuVurnay (When They See Us).

A release date has not yet been announced.